INT. - 221B Baker Street, London – The Sitting Room - DUSK
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
It's an early evening in March. The sitting room at 221B Baker Street is cosily lit only by reading lamps. Muted traffic noise comes up from the street below, but there is little to disturb the quiet domesticity of the scene. John, in one of his comfortable jumpers and with his legs up, is in his armchair, absorbed in a paperback. Sherlock, in his usual suit but sans jacket, is sitting at the kitchen table, lighting a piece of fabric on fire briefly over a Bunsen burner, before blowing it out and sniffing it. Then he puts it down and picks up another, setting it alight, too. After a moment, John lets his book sink down.
JOHN: Alright, it was odd enough when it smelled like celery, and I said nothing about vinegar, either, but now it smells like you’re burning sheep!
SHERLOCK (barely looking up from the charred bit of fabric in his hand): Very good, John, that was wool suiting. Burns briefly, then chars to an irregular dark ash and smells of - (sniffing at the burned scrap) - burning hair, only less acrid.
JOHN (turning around in his seat): And the celery?
SHERLOCK: Nylon. Melts into a hard grey bead.
JOHN: Why are you burning fabric?
SHERLOCK (setting another scrap on fire): It’s Ash Wednesday.
JOHN (drily): Right, of course. (He covers his nose with his hand.) Oh hell, put that out. It smells like burning tyres.
SHERLOCK (coughing slightly): Olefin. Commonly found in carpeting and vehicle interiors.
John gets up, walks over to the left hand window and pushes it half-way up.
JOHN: Why again are you doing this?
SHERLOCK: I told you, it’s Ash Wednesday. I find the name serves excellently as a reminder to annually update my collection. (He turns the small singed scrap of fabric in his fingers.) Traditionally, I would do burn tests of new tobacco products for my monograph. But when you invited yourself over, I felt you might not approve, ergo, textile burn testing today.
JOHN: An evening of inhaling nicotine would’ve been healthier than this. (He returns to his chair and stands by it, facing the kitchen.) Do you really have to burn things, Sherlock? Come on, just -
John gestures to Sherlock’s chair. Sherlock looks down at the fabric in his hand, and drops it into a jar. He stands up, walks over to his chair and sits down somewhat stiffly.
SHERLOCK: Okay. (There is an awkward silence for a moment. Then Sherlock nods at the paperback in John's hand.) How’s your book?
JOHN: Really good.
SHERLOCK: Good. (He pauses, clearly waiting for John to say more.) Well, that was enlightening.
JOHN: It's about Napoleon. (He holds it up so Sherlock can see the title, which features a reproduction of a portrait painting of the French emperor.) I think you’d like it.
JOHN: Napoleon? One of the greatest military commanders in history?
SHERLOCK: And this would interest me why?
JOHN: Well, there’s a really clever chapter examining all the variables of the Battle of Waterloo and how it shifted the outcome. Like, for example, a tiny shift of the weather could have changed the whole course of European history. If it wasn’t for the rain, we could all be speaking French now.
SHERLOCK (deadpan): I can barely imagine a more terrible hardship. (Dismissively) And in any case, third-rate speculative history is not my department, and I wouldn't have thought you-
JOHN (sarcastically): Well, what a pleasant interlocutor you make. (He flips the book around to read from the blurb.) "Universally acclaimed to be the best biography of Napoleon Buonaparte ever written." The Times Literary Supplement. (He glances up pointedly at his friend for moment, then scans the back of the book for more ammunition.) Professor Ernest P. Walker, PhD. Holds a chair in European History at Oxford. Member of the British Academy. Writes for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. That's good enough for me, I think.
SHERLOCK (airily): Well, I suppose when it comes to overwritten prose, you are the expert.
JOHN (narrowing his eyes): Remind me to never try to chat with you again.
He makes a move to flick his book open again where he's marked the page. But his gaze comes to rest on the title picture instead. After a minute or so of silence, while John seems to be quite lost in thought -
SHERLOCK (under his breath): “The young Alexander conquered India. Was he alone?”
JOHN (looking up): What?
SHERLOCK: “Caesar beat the Gauls. Did he not have even a cook with him?”
JOHN (with a frown): Are you getting hungry now?
SHERLOCK: No. It's what you were thinking. “Who built Thebes of the seven gates? In the books you will find the name of kings. Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?” You’re not the first to wonder, you know, how strange it is that of several billion people on this planet at any one time, one man goes down in history and all the others don't. Or isn’t that what you were thinking?
JOHN: Well... yes. Sort of. (He puts the book down on the small table next to his chair.) I was thinking about Waterloo, actually, and how Napoleon was brought down. Individually, none of his opponents were in his league, or even close. But together, they did it.
SHERLOCK: I thought it was the rain.
JOHN: That, too.
SHERLOCK (with a smirk): So, are you arguing that ten idiots make one genius?
JOHN (with a snort): You'd hate that idea, wouldn't you?
SHERLOCK (dismissively): I would if it were true.
Downstairs, the doorbell rings, but neither of them reacts. A moment later, the front door opens, then closes again, and through the open window, they can hear a car driving away. There are steps on the stairs, and Mrs Hudson enters by the open sitting room door.
MRS HUDSON: Woo-hoo! (She shudders in the draught from the window.) Oh. Don't you find it a bit draughty in here? (She advances to Sherlock's chair, a plain white envelope in her hand.) Someone's just brought this for you, Sherlock.
SHERLOCK (holding out his hand without looking either at her or at the envelope): Who was it?
MRS HUDSON: I couldn’t tell.
She puts the envelope in his hand, then walks on to the open window behind Sherlock's chair to close it.
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder): Didn’t they say?
MRS HUDSON: No, he didn’t give his name. He seemed in rather a hurry.
SHERLOCK: “He?” What did “He” look like?
MRS HUDSON: I don’t know.
Sherlock and John exchange a look, confused. Mrs Hudson closes the window, then turns back towards the room.
MRS HUDSON: He was wearing a mask.
SHERLOCK & JOHN (simultaneously): WHAT?
Sherlock jumps up from his chair, rushes to the window and pushes it right back up to lean out and look. John, however, makes a bee-line for the open door and races down the stairs. After a moment, Sherlock runs after him and Mrs Hudson runs after Sherlock.
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Hall – DUSK
In the downstairs hall, John is already coming back inside from the street as Sherlock comes thundering down the stairs, two at a time, Mrs Hudson following. John closes the door behind him and shakes his head, too out of breath to speak.
JOHN: No sign of him. Must have left in a car.
SHERLOCK (turning to confront his landlady): Mrs Hudson. What in the world possessed you to let a masked stranger into the house?
MRS HUDSON (rather flustered): He never passed the threshold! He just handed me the envelope, said “For Mr Sherlock Holmes. Please let him have it immediately.” and then left again. Very polite, very civilised. (To Sherlock, reproachfully) We’ve had dodgier visitors here, young man, and none of them mine.
Sherlock thrusts the envelope at John and takes Mrs Hudson by the shoulders, not ungently, but still quivering with urgency.
SHERLOCK: What did he look like? The mask? The clothes?
MRS HUDSON (screwing up her face in concentration, trying to remember): Very old fashioned – a long wide cloak, black or dark grey. And a three-cornered hat, like a pirate. The mask was plain black, and left only the eyes free.
Sherlock huffs a frustrated breath. John, meanwhile, has opened the envelope. He retrieves two slips of paper from it.
JOHN (with a frown): Concert tickets. For the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. They’re playing –
Sherlock holds up a hand to stop him. All the tension is suddenly gone from his expression. Instead, a grin is spreading across his face.
SHERLOCK: - Mozart’s Requiem. (He starts to laugh.) Oh, Mycroft. That really wasn’t necessary.
JOHN: What? You mean they’re from Mycroft?
SHERLOCK (still very much amused): Of course. It’s exactly his sense of humour.
JOHN (puzzled): I didn’t know he had a sense of humour.
SHERLOCK (straight-faced for a moment): Why else do you think he insisted on kidnapping you with such regularity?
JOHN (rolling his eyes): Seriously. Isn’t a masked messenger a little over the top, even for Mycroft?
MRS HUDSON (with decision): I know Mycroft’s voice, and that wasn’t him.
SHERLOCK: No, of course it wasn’t him personally. He’s not in town. He’s in Zurich, getting shouted at.
Mrs Hudson and John gape at him.
SHERLOCK (patiently): That’s why I’m getting his tickets. Not for the first time. He’s got a subscription for the Academy’s London concerts, but he rarely has the time to go.
He takes the tickets from John and glances over them.
SHERLOCK: Well, John, better run home and put on something decent. It’s at eight tonight.
JOHN: What? Me, too?
SHERLOCK: There are two tickets, aren’t there? And Mary’s away, anyway.
MRS HUDSON (to John, in a tone of polite enquiry): Oh, is she, John?
SHERLOCK (curtly): She’s in Birmingham, getting drunk.
He clicks the final “k”. Mrs Hudson looks mildly disconcerted. John shoots Sherlock a dirty look, then hurries to explain things to Mrs Hudson.
JOHN: Someone’s hen night. Old friend of hers, from her nursing school days, I think. (To Sherlock, nodding at the concert tickets) You know, I don’t think I’m exactly -
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Oh yes, sorry. It’s only the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, not the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers Marching Band.
John looks seriously offended.
MRS HUDSON (in a disapproving tone): Boys.
So... want to help Sherlock and John figure out what is going on?
Throughout this story, there will be questions for you to answer and puzzles for you to solve.
UPDATE: As the story is now complete, the chapter comments now contain the solutions for each respective puzzle. If you don't want spoilers, best avoid them!
Please also feel free to speculate and theorise to your heart’s content in the comments section. Of course you’re also welcome to just read and not play. We treasure all kinds of feedback!
And from chapter 2 onwards, make sure you have your earphones at hand. Since this is a story about music, of course it has a soundtrack, too.
Concert tickets image by RubraSaetaFictor
Please note that most of the music embedded in this story - unless otherwise indicated - is meant for you to listen to while you read on, like a soundtrack. So no need to pause in your reading, unless you want to.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
INT. – The church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London - NIGHT
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
John and Sherlock are in their places in the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which is packed to the last seat, ready for the concert to begin. Their seats are right in the front row, towards one end. Sherlock is in his customary dark suit, and John, as instructed, has also dressed with particular care. He is wearing his black engagement suit, but with a slightly more cheerful tie this time. John is reading in the programme brochure, slowly turning pages. Sherlock keeps looking over his shoulder, his eyes darting all over the church. All of a sudden, the phone in John's pocket pings a text alert. Sherlock turns back to his friend and raises a disapproving eyebrow. John fumbles to get his phone out, visibly embarrassed that he forgot to switch it off. He glances at the screen while putting it on silence. A fond little smile lights up his face.
SHERLOCK: Still coherent, is she?
JOHN (pointedly): Stone cold sober, at least by her spelling.
SHERLOCK: Well, the night's still young.
He resumes his scrutiny of the concert venue, now focussing unobtrusively on the people sitting immediately next to him.
JOHN (his eyes back on the concert programme): Stop deducing your neighbours, Sherlock. (Sherlock doesn't react.) By the way – (John looks up again.) - why's Mycroft getting shouted at in Zurich?
SHERLOCK: What? Oh, I don’t know. Something to do with a bank. They've been negotiating back and forth for months, and their director, who is a textbook choleric, is getting louder every time they meet, and less and less imaginative in his expletives.
JOHN: Why would Mycroft bother talking to a Swiss bank in person? Seems a bit out of his domain.
SHERLOCK: If you asked Mycroft, he’d insist that everything is his domain. But he mentioned HM Revenue and Customs, so at that point I decided that my attention was better served determining how fast I would have to stir my cup of tea for the kinetic energy from my spoon to make the fluid hotter rather than cooler.
JOHN: Does he do that often? Go abroad and sort things out for government agencies, I mean?
SHERLOCK: Oh yes. He juggles three dozen aliases for that sort of thing. Can't wait to find out what Anthea came up for him on this occasion.
JOHN (with a smirk): Mr Moneypenny?
JOHN: Are you telling me she's got a sense of humour, too?
SHERLOCK (with a smile): You'd be surprised. But yeah, Mycroft and legwork. He hates it, of course. You should hear how he moans, every time he has to go on one of those trips. Of course, he believes that the world will stop turning if he leaves his London office for more than a day. But lo and behold, he can go away for a whole week and let himself be shouted at from Brussels to Baghdad - Earth's rotation remains unaffected, much to his chagrin.
JOHN (resuming his reading): Well, in case that Swiss banker needs some inspiration for more creative maledictions, this Requiem is full of it. “Burned up by eternal fire”... “sentenced to acrid flames”... real cheery.
At that moment, applause rises from the ranks of the audience as the members of the orchestra and the choir enter to take their places on the stage. Shortly afterwards, the solemn, measured music of the opening movement of Mozart's Requiem is filling the church.
EXT. - Trafalgar Square, outside St. Martin-in-the-Fields – NIGHT
After the concert, Sherlock and John, back in their overcoats, come out of the church and walk down the steps. Before them opens the huge expanse of the brightly lit and still quite busy Trafalgar Square.
SHERLOCK: So, how did you like it?
JOHN: Hmm. Heavy artillery. But, yeah. Impressive. That music makes you feel rather small and … mortal, somehow. If you know what I mean.
SHERLOCK (soberly): Oh, I do. Small and stupid. (John frowns, but before he can comment, Sherlock continues in a much lighter tone.) So, dinner now?
JOHN: Yeah, sure. Is it on Mycroft, too?
SHERLOCK: I’m sure we can find a way.
They turn left along Charing Cross Road, but they've only got a few steps further when the phone in Sherlock's pocket rings. He takes the call while they walk on.
SHERLOCK (into the phone): Yes? … Ah. Yes. (He halts.) … Alright. Where? … Good. We're on our way. (He ends the call and turns to John. His face has lit up with anticipation.) Lestrade.
JOHN: Anyone dead?
JOHN (drily): How fitting.
Sherlock pockets his phone, steps up to the kerb and flags down a cab. Clearly, the game is on.
EXT. - Residential Street, West Hampstead, London - NIGHT
A residential street in a fairly well-off part of West Hampstead, a little later. The scene is illuminated by glaring floodlight. One of the well-kept terraced houses has been gutted by a raging fire, and it and its neighbouring houses are cordoned off. Firemen are working on securing the site with heavy machinery. There is still a haze of smoke in the air, but the fire is already extinguished. There is a fairly strong police presence, too, and some onlookers are loitering outside the perimeter of the crime scene, but there are no blue lights flashing. The catastrophe isn’t all that recent and already under control.
A cab comes driving up and halts. Sherlock and John get out.
They're let through into the cordoned-off area by a uniformed constable as a matter of course. By the iron railing separating the burned-out house's front yard from the street, they're met by Greg Lestrade.
SHERLOCK (looking straight over Lestrade's head, at the burned-out house): Alright, what've you got?
Lestrade nods hello to John, then half-turns back towards the site of the fire.
LESTRADE: Haven't been in there yet, but we're only waiting for the all-clear. (He gestures at the forensics team that's already hovering in the background.) Seems the people who lived here had a built-in sauna installed in their basement. The firemen say it looks like they left the heater on too long, because the fire seems to have started there and then spread out.
JOHN: What idiots would leave the sauna oven on and not notice until the whole house was on fire?
LESTRADE: Dead idiots. They found two bodies down there, right in the sauna itself. A man and a woman. That's why we're here.
JOHN: Sounds like a freak accident.
LESTRADE: I know.
Sherlock, who has been scanning the scene with his eyes all this time, now refocuses on Lestrade.
SHERLOCK: Why am I being requested to look into a freak accident?
LESTRADE: Because it stops looking like an accident when you find people dead in a sauna with their clothes on and the door blocked from the outside.
SHERLOCK: Have they been identified?
LESTRADE: We’ll have to wait for dental records or DNA to be sure. I'm told they're not a pretty sight. But it seems likely that they’re the tenants of the house. (He consults his notebook.) A middle-aged Swedish couple. The man’s a professional football coach. Used to play for Sweden when he was younger. Their name’s Hedlund. David and Sibylla.
Silence. Then John's head suddenly snaps towards Sherlock, his eyes wide.
JOHN (aghast): Jesus.
The fireman in command of the operation, dressed in his heavy protective suit and helmet and carrying a SCBA mask in his hand, comes over to them and addresses Lestrade.
FIREMAN: Sorry, Detective Inspector. I can’t let you fellows in just yet. It’ll be at least an hour yet til we’ve got the basement secured so it won’t fall on your heads. It’s still too full of smoke for you to go in without masks, either.
LESTRADE (resigning himself to a long night): Alright. Give me a shout when you’re ready. (To Sherlock and John, apologetically) Sorry about that. He’d said earlier that -
SHERLOCK (generously): Well, never mind. Come to Baker Street tomorrow morning and tell us what you’ve got.
He turns and walks away. John exchanges a surprised look with Lestrade, but Lestrade only shrugs. John nods goodbye and follows Sherlock.
Puzzle No. 1:
John’s seen plenty of things more gruesome than a burned-out house. What about this crime has got John so shocked?
St. Martin-in-the-Fields photo by Garry Lynch
Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla.
The day of wrath, that day
Will dissolve the world in ashes,
As foretold by David and the Sibyl.
(Dies Irae, Verse 1)
EXT. - Residential Street, West Hampstead - NIGHT
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Sherlock is walking away from the scene of the fire. John, following, catches up with him after a few steps.
JOHN: Don’t tell me you didn’t notice.
SHERLOCK (walking on): Notice what?
John wordlessly digs the concert programme out of the pocket of his jacket and holds it up.
SHERLOCK (dismissively): What’s an eighteenth century funeral mass got to do with a twenty-first century crime?
JOHN: That’s what I’d like to know. Those names, Sherlock. What kind of sick coincidence is that?
SHERLOCK: What’s in a name? (They duck under the police tape and continue down the pavement.) I wouldn’t have taken you for a superstitious man, John.
JOHN: It’s not superstition, it’s a fact! Don’t you find it damn odd to come out of Mozart's Requiem to find two people called David and Sybilla reduced to ashes? On Ash Wednesday, too? Don’t tell me that’s Mycroft’s sense of humour.
SHERLOCK: None of this has anything to do with Mycroft, John.
JOHN (stopping in his tracks): What?
SHERLOCK (impatiently): Use your eyes. Look at the tickets, and look properly for once.
John takes the concert tickets back out of the pocket of his jacket where he’s stored them. They halt under a streetlamp to look.
SHERLOCK: They’re not subscription tickets. They were bought individually, only today, from one of those box office stalls in the West End. See the little numbers there, in the bottom left corner? (He points with a gloved finger.) Date and time of purchase.
JOHN (peering at the printed numerals): 5:48 this afternoon?
SHERLOCK: Exactly. Besides, they were for seats in the first row. As you noticed yourself, in a concert featuring a symphonic orchestra playing with maximum symphonic vehemence ninety percent of the time, placing someone there equals an acoustic assault. You may think what you like of Mycroft otherwise, but he’s definitely above suspicion in that department.
JOHN (incredulously): So - so you’re saying that you knew all along that those tickets didn’t come from Mycroft?
SHERLOCK: As soon as I saw them, yes.
JOHN (with great indignation): But you still sat through that whole concert, cool as a cucumber, while mere miles away two people were burnt horribly to death in their own basement?
SHERLOCK (offended): Excuse me? I know how to use my eyes, John, but I’m not clairvoyant. How was I to know that -
JOHN (still angrily): - that the tickets were a ruse to keep you from stopping a murderer? No, nothing suspicious about them at all, was there? Just a little hocus-pocus with a masked stranger knocking on our door, and -
SHERLOCK (crossing his arms belligerently): Don’t tell me you weren’t intrigued by that, too!
JOHN (bitterly): If you’d believed that, you wouldn’t have kept me in the dark, to make sure I’d come along quietly. You just wanted some private fun with that little puzzle, didn't you? Is that why you couldn’t keep your eyes on the performance? You thought someone had sent you to the concert on purpose because something intriguing was going to happen at the church itself?
SHERLOCK (defensively): It was the most likely explanation!
JOHN: Well, you were wrong then, weren’t you? And now Greg’s got a double murder on his hands, and -
SHERLOCK (cutting him off, with cold dignity): You go on ahead, John. I need to go back. There’s something I forgot. I’ll see you in the morning.
He turns on his heel and walks back towards the scene of the fire. John shakes his head after him, then squares his shoulders and walks off with firm steps into the direction of the main road, not looking back.
Sherlock has returned to the crime scene. There’s a fire engine parked at the edge of the cordoned-off area, and two or three firemen are sitting on the back steps, facing away from the ruin of the house, taking a short break from their duties. They're sipping from water bottles and talking in an undertone. One of them has taken off his heavy protective jacket, his helmet and his breathing mask, and has hung them on the iron railing in front of the adjoining house, a little aside from where they’re sitting. Sherlock comes sneaking up to the equipment and lifts it soundlessly from its impromptu hooks, while the firemen are looking the other way.
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room – DAY
Thursday, 6 March 2014
The sitting room at 221B Baker Street, on the next morning. The desk-cum-dining table is set for breakfast, and Greg Lestrade, badly in need of a shave and a fresh shirt, is sitting at it, tucking into Mrs Hudson’s fry-up. He’s got deep dark rings under his eyes, and he’s wolfing down his meal in exhausted silence. John comes out of the kitchen, carrying a steaming pot of coffee. He puts it down in front of Greg, who nods thank you, and then sits down opposite him. Sherlock, with a dressing gown over a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, comes sauntering into the room, his hair standing in all directions. He’s got his nose in a newspaper.
SHERLOCK (reading aloud): “Tragedy in West Hampstead. Former Swedish international and wife die in blaze.” (He looks up at Lestrade.) You haven’t even told them it was murder?
Lestrade, chewing vigorously, shakes his head. He swallows his bite, then speaks up.
LESTRADE: No point in making people panic, is there?
SHERLOCK (folding up the paper): Well, let’s hear the real story, then.
LESTRADE: Nothing new, really. The sauna oven was on at maximum power, but there were also traces of an accelerant in four places in that basement, outside the sauna cabin itself. So together with the fact that the sauna door was blocked from the outside with an improvised metal bar, we’re definitely looking at murder by arson. Ugly. (It doesn’t seem to affect his appetite, however. He picks up and starts buttering a piece of toast.) But that’s all I can tell you. As for a suspect or a motive, we’re completely in the dark.
Sherlock drops the paper carelessly on the table.
LESTRADE (looking up): Five suspects?
SHERLOCK: Five places. (Lestrade frowns. Sherlock smiles rather falsely.) The accelerant.
Lestrade’s eyes narrow. He sniffs the air suspiciously, then rolls his eyes.
LESTRADE: You could at least have had the decency to wash the smell of smoke out of your hair before I came here.
John’s eyes go wide as he realises the implications.
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade): Just testing the functionality of your olfactory cells.
LESTRADE (grumbling): Not fair, after a sleepless night.
SHERLOCK (lightly): Oh, you're doing well. John didn't notice, and he's had a full eight hours.
Now it’s John’s turn to roll his eyes.
LESTRADE (miffed): But that's all you’ve got for me? Another patch of accelerant somewhere in that basement that we missed? Next time you sneak into an unprocessed crime scene ahead of the rest of us, there’d better be more.
SHERLOCK (deliberately obtuse): More accelerant?
John clears his throat.
JOHN: Well actually, Greg, we do have something more to tell you.
Lestrade shifts his attention to John, eyebrows raised. Sherlock scoffs audibly. John points a commanding finger at him.
JOHN (sternly): And you’re allowed to open your mouth only to correct my Latin, for the next ten minutes.
JOHN (to Lestrade): He thinks it’s all superstitious nonsense, but I think you ought to know.
LESTRADE (leaning back in his seat): Know what?
JOHN: How well up are you in Mozart?
LESTRADE (with an atrocious accent): “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” on a blues harp?
JOHN: Alright. But you do know how the story of Mozart’s Requiem goes? I read it up last night. The gist of it is this: In 1791, a couple of months before his death, Mozart had a visit from a mysterious stranger at his home in Vienna, who commissioned him to compose the music for a mass for the dead. Mozart started writing the music. But as he went on, his health got worse and worse. He told his family and friends that he felt the unknown messenger had been sent from the afterworld, and that he was writing the Requiem for himself. And sure enough, he’d barely finished the first half of it when he died.
LESTRADE: Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Wasn’t there a movie, ages ago? But what’s it got to do with our case?
JOHN: There was a performance of Mozart’s Requiem here in London last night, at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Sherlock and I went. You called us about the arson just as we were leaving the church. Now look at this. (He picks up the concert programme that was lying on the table, opens it and pushes it towards Lestrade.) Look at the first verse of the Dies Irae sequence.
LESTRADE (reading aloud, very slowly and in an even worse accent than before): “Dies irae, dies –” Oh, thank God, there’s a translation. “The day of wrath, that day that dissolves the world in ashes, as - ” (He pauses, swallows, and then continues in a much lower voice.) “- as foretold by David and the Sibyl?” (He looks up, visibly unsettled.) What kind of sick coincidence is that?
John gives Sherlock a very pointed look. Sherlock, who has followed their exchange with his arms folded and his lips ostentatiously pressed together, pulls a face and shrugs.
JOHN (to Lestrade): It gets even better. Now guess how we came by those concert tickets.
LESTRADE: Go on.
JOHN: In exactly the same way that Mozart came by his Requiem. From a masked messenger at our door, cloak, three-cornered hat and all.
LESTRADE: You're kidding.
JOHN: I'm not.
LESTRADE: But you have no idea who it was?
JOHN: No. Only Mrs Hudson saw him.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock): And now you’re thinking that someone wanted you safely out of the way while they were busy killing the Hedlunds?
SHERLOCK: No. (He checks his watch. In a falsely contrite tone) Sorry. I’ll say that again in two minutes seventeen seconds.
JOHN (with a generous wave of his hand): Good behaviour. Go ahead.
SHERLOCK (to John, very pointedly): Thank you. (To Lestrade, with the utmost confidence) I’m thinking that you've got it wrong.
LESTRADE (resigned): Tell me something new.
SHERLOCK: I’m thinking that those tickets were not a distraction. They were a message.
John stares at his friend. Sherlock ignores it.
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade): With your theory, the timing’s all wrong. David and Sibylla Hedlund must have been already dead for hours when the concert started. They were probably dead even before we received the tickets, which was just after half past six. When exactly was the fire first reported?
LESTRADE (consulting his notebook): Around four. Several neighbours at once called 999. The firemen were there within ten minutes. They had it under control by around six. We were called in at eight, when they'd made their way into the basement and found the bodies.
SHERLOCK: So that means the Hedlunds were even dead already when our Grey Messenger himself bought the tickets from the box office, at twelve minutes to six. So why did he send John and me to that concert after the deed? Certainly not to deflect our attention from the deaths, but rather to draw it to them. He wanted us to note the names. Hence, not a diversionary tactic, but a message.
JOHN (in a tone of disbelief): Are you saying that you’ve started to believe in my superstitious nonsense now, too?
SHERLOCK (darkly): I’ve started to believe that someone’s laughing in our faces, and I don’t like it.
INT. – St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London – Molly Hooper's Lab - DAY
Friday, 7 March 2014
Barts Hospital, Molly Hooper's lab, on the following day. Molly, in her usual lab coat, is sitting in front of one of the computers installed along the far side of the room, but she has turned her chair sideways to face John, who is leaning comfortably against one of the workbenches. They both have mugs of coffee in their hands and appear to be in the middle of a conversation.
JOHN: So, other than that the victims really were the Hedlunds, they couldn’t tell you much anymore?
MOLLY (shaking her head sadly): Practically nothing, seeing how little was left of them. Have you got any further with finding that messenger?
JOHN: No. (He takes a sip of his coffee.) Sherlock’s been tormenting Mrs Hudson to try and remember every last tiny detail about him, but she can’t say more than that his voice sounded young rather than old, that he was of middle height, didn’t have a particular accent and didn’t smell of cigarette smoke.
MOLLY (regretfully): That’s not much.
JOHN: I know.
MOLLY (hesitantly): Are you sure – I mean – (She blushes.) Well, Mrs Hudson's a dear, of course, and I don't want to suggest – but she's not twenty anymore, so maybe...
JOHN: You mean she just imagined -
MOLLY: No... more like, someone made her believe... like a conjuror's trick, or something? She was the only one who set eyes on him, wasn't she?
JOHN: Yeah, she was. I’ve spoken to Mr Chatterjee of Speedy’s - he thought he heard a car stop outside our door at around the time the Messenger came, but the café was packed at the time, he had his hands full, so he didn’t look. But if the Messenger wasn't even real, where did Mrs Hudson get all those details?
MOLLY: Any fingerprints on the tickets, or the envelope?
JOHN: None. (He runs a hand over his face and sighs in frustration.) We’re hitting dead ends everywhere. Sherlock’s off asking around at the box office stalls now, and then I bet he’ll be turning every costume rental agency in town upside down for the mask and hat and cloak. But it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. The Messenger could have borrowed the stuff from any theatre or re-enactment group, too, or mail-ordered it somewhere, or even made it himself.
MOLLY: Can’t Greg’s people help with that sort of research?
JOHN: I can tell Greg thinks it’s a bit of a wild goose chase. He said he’d rather focus on the crime scene and on the Hedlunds’ background. Can’t blame him.
MOLLY: You said there was no obvious motive for killing them.
JOHN: Too early to tell. Greg’s only just started looking. He says the supporters of Hedlund‘s club used to have quite a reputation for hooliganism, with a lot of ugly incidents with local rivals. But that was years ago, before Hedlund’s time actually. According to Greg, Hedlund really clamped down on that when he took over, so it’s all history now. He’s earned himself a lot of respect for how he turned the tide there.
MOLLY: And probably made himself well hated at the same time.
JOHN: To the point of them setting his house on fire, and him and his wife with it? Years later?
MOLLY (after a moment of thoughtful silence): What if there is no motive?
JOHN: You mean there’s some demented arsonist out there who just picks his victims at random?
MOLLY: Maybe they just happened to have the wrong names.
JOHN: How do you mean?
MOLLY: You’re thinking that the murderer chose the Mozart Requiem to alert you to his crime because the names of his victims appear in it, right? But what if it’s the other way round, and he chose the victims just because their names appear in the Requiem?
JOHN (grimacing): Who on earth would do that?
MOLLY: A religious fanatic, maybe? Someone who’s obsessed with the idea of the Last Judgement, and wants to make it come true? (Blushing slightly) I read up on it after Greg mentioned the strange thing about their names - the Dies Irae hymn is all about the Last Judgment, isn’t it? And how everybody will be called to account for their sins? (John nods.) Then maybe Greg should look for something morally dodgy in the Hedlunds’ lives. Affairs, debts, drugs... the sort of thing that a twisted mind might want to see punished.
JOHN (doubtfully): I’ll suggest it. You’re right, there must be a reason why they were killed in such a spectacular -
He breaks off abruptly and frowns, as if struck by a sudden idea.
MOLLY: What is it?
JOHN: You know what they say about psychopaths?
JOHN: They get bored.
MOLLY: What do you mean?
JOHN (heavily): He may have done it before.
MOLLY: What? You mean he’s tried to burn - oh. (Her eyes widen, and she claps her hand to her mouth.) You mean he’s the same? The – the same who put you in the bonfire back in November?
JOHN: Would make sense, wouldn’t it? We never found him. So he’s still at large. He obviously enjoys making people burn on special days, and he enjoys it even more when Sherlock’s watching.
MOLLY (aghast): Oh god. (She swallows.) That would be horrible.
JOHN: Sherlock would say it’s good news.
MOLLY: How’s that?
JOHN (grimly): Because if he’s doing it again, we’re getting a new chance to catch him.
MOLLY: But then what’s gonna happen next?
Puzzle No. 2:
What is going to happen next?
Concert Programme by RubraSaetaFictor
Ticket photo by Jolie_Black
Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando Judex est venturus,
Cuncta stricte discussurus.
How much trembling there will be,
When the Judge will come,
To investigate everything strictly.
(Dies Irae, Verse 2)
INT. – 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room - DAY
Friday, 7 March 2014
221B Baker Street, the sitting room, later on the same day. Sherlock and John are back home from their respective excursions. Sherlock, with a face like a thundercloud, is pacing up and down like a caged animal, all restless but aimless energy. John is in his chair. Mrs Hudson is fussing in the kitchen. Greg Lestrade, still in his coat, is leaning against the jamb of the open sitting room door with his arms crossed.
JOHN (in a soothing tone): Sherlock, sit down. It was a long shot, asking the box office people to remember one among hundreds of faces. It’s not the only lead we have.
LESTRADE: Like John says, this isn’t the first time someone has pointed you to a crime.
SHERLOCK (dismissively): People point me to crimes all the time, it’s the natural order of things. In case you’ve forgotten, I have a website telling people to point me to crimes.
LESTRADE: A crime they’ve committed themselves?
SHERLOCK: Why not? I've had a dozen clients over the years who turned out to be the culprits in their own case. Hubris, half of the times. Guilty conscience, the other half. Some want to prove their non-existent cleverness. Others actually want to be discovered.
LESTRADE: Oh, come on. Mysterious message, spectacular blaze. You can’t tell me this doesn’t make you think of – (He exchanges a look with John, as if to make sure it's alright to go down that road. John nods in resigned agreement.) - of the last time one of you nearly ended up burned to death.
Sherlock stops pacing, and turns sharply to face Lestrade.
SHERLOCK: Well, what about it?
JOHN (to Sherlock, quietly): You got a message pointing you there, too.
SHERLOCK: Mary got it. And a true sporting chance of saving you, as well. Not just an invitation to pick up a charred corpse, like this time. (He puts his hands to the sides of his head.) No, no, this is different. (He looks up at his friends again.) David and Sibylla? Ash Wednesday? All a bit on the nose, don’t you think? This isn’t a criminal mastermind, it’s a plain pedestrian murder by someone who’s watched too many silly movies.
LESTRADE: Just in case, though, maybe you should leave this one to the Met.
SHERLOCK: And let you bungle it? He may be a murderer, but he's still my client. I plan to see it through.
LESTRADE: You know I do solve cases without you. (With a sigh) Look, anything else happens - weird messages, guys in funny hats, you win tickets to a primary school band concert - anything out of the ordinary, you call me.
He holds Sherlock's gaze for a moment, then takes his silence for a “yes,” nods to John by way of good-bye, and takes his leave. Just as he's about to descend the stairs, Sherlock calls him back.
LESTRADE (poking his head back in at the door): What?
SHERLOCK: I'd like to know where exactly Philip Anderson was at half past six p.m. on Ash Wednesday, and who can vouch for whatever he'll tell you.
LESTRADE (frowning): Anderson? Why? (A little sheepishly) Oh. I see. I’ll find out.
He leaves, this time for real.
JOHN (to Sherlock, when Greg has disappeared down the stairs): You don't believe that, do you? That it's another hoax? All those clients who thought they were cleverer than you, or who were just clamouring for attention - they all came to you openly, under their own name. They were all trying to look as normal and harmless as possible. None of them hid behind a mask.
MRS HUDSON (from the kitchen): And a scary story.
Sherlock snorts derisively.
MRS HUDSON: No, really. Haven’t you wondered why he dressed up like that?
Sherlock looks across at her as if she has lost her mind.
SHERLOCK: To scare me? That story of Mozart and the Grey Messenger is hackneyed nineteenth century pop culture, Mrs Hudson, it's not real. How could that possibly scare me?
MRS HUDSON: Well, to dress up like a figure that's known to herald death -
SHERLOCK (impatiently): Known? Known? It's what people like to imagine, but it's nothing but a big sensationalist lie, invented by Mozart's widow because it kept her husband's memory alive, and helped sell his work. She planted it in people’s minds, very cleverly, after he'd died at thirty-five and left her with nothing but two young children and a mountain of debts.
MRS HUDSON (pointedly): How old are you again now, Sherlock?
SHERLOCK (after a moment, suspiciously): Why? (He crosses his arms defiantly.) If you're expecting any spectacular revelations on my part about having engendered offspring, incurred debts, or committed any similarly inexcusable irresponsibilities, I must disappoint you. I may admire Mozart’s musical genius, but my veneration for him does not go so far as to imitate him in every other particular. And that includes dying at thirty-five, since you were wondering.
Mrs Hudson comes walking out of the kitchen towards him, with a look of real concern on her face.
MRS HUDSON: You know - that movie. It’s all about how the court composer Salieri was so jealous of Mozart's genius that he actually killed him, by scaring him to death with the Requiem thing. Don't you think -
SHERLOCK (exploding): Mrs Hudson, I ask you! Are you seriously suggesting that I have a rival who’s trying to scare me to death by re-enacting a mediocre Hollywood production?
JOHN (under his breath): It won eight Oscars.
MRS HUDSON (rather hurt): I’m worried, that’s all! Envy will make people do the strangest things.
SHERLOCK (annoyed): So that’s who our murderer is? The other only consulting detective in the world? (He turns to John. Derisively) Then you’d better watch out, John. He’s probably got a blogger, who thinks he’s a better writer than you. You might still be on their list, too.
JOHN (quietly): You know who I think is next on the list.
SHERLOCK: Ah. Then we’re back with the idea that we’re dealing with a serial killer who's trying to re-enact the Dies Irae verse by verse, and we’re now looking for a murdered judge, as suggested by Verse Two? There are thousands of judges in the UK. Do you think they'll all be given a security detail now, just because their profession is mentioned in a medieval funeral chant? And what then? Verse three, a murdered tuba? Verse five, a murdered book?
JOHN: I know, it’s not exactly practical, but -
Mrs Hudson has picked up and started leafing through the newspaper from the small table by John’s chair.
MRS HUDSON: And not even necessary, I think. Judges are a resilient breed. I just saw something this morning, I’ll find it for you… (Turning pages) Here we are.
She holds up the newspaper. John takes it from her, and reads:
INT. – Royal London Hospital – Private Room - DAY
A private hospital room at the Royal London Hospital, later on the same day. John and Sherlock are in visitors’ chairs at the bedside of a man in his early sixties. They both haven't taken off their coats, and are perched on the edges of their seats. Both of them are clearly having second thoughts about the wisdom of coming here, if for different reasons. John seems slightly intimidated by the situation, while Sherlock looks like he thinks it's a complete waste of time. Even sitting up in bed, wearing a hospital nightgown, the judge is an imposing presence. His high forehead is bandaged neatly, and his left arm is in a sling, but neither takes away from his dignity and air of natural authority. That impression is only heightened when he speaks, in a clear, ringing voice designed to fill much greater rooms than this.
JUDGE TALBOT (addressing Sherlock): I appreciate it that my little accident intrigued you enough to make you wonder whether it might fit into your collection of bizarre crimes, Mr Holmes, but I assure you that you’re on the wrong track. There was nothing fantastical about it. Shoddy workmanship and a sudden gust of wind, that’s all. I simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
JOHN: May we ask why you happened to be in that place at that time?
JUDGE TALBOT (chuckling): Well, if it makes you happy, and if it gets the pair of you out of here more quickly, I don’t mind telling you what happened. As far as I can remember. My memory of the incident is rather muddled. (He sits up a little straighter in bed, squares his shoulders with a wince and pulls his loose nightgown closer around his neck.) I must correct myself. Technically, I wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time at all. I was on my way into the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing that had been scheduled for that morning. There was some scaffolding around the archway of the main entrance, covered in sheets of plastic. I think they were going to sandblast the façade, or something of the sort. I - and everyone else - had to pass under it to enter the building. I have a hazy recollection that when I was directly underneath it, there was a strong gust of wind that shook the plastic covering of the scaffold, making it rattle and tremble. (John gives Sherlock a significant look, but Sherlock’s eyes are on the judge.) That is, I don't remember feeling the wind, but that flapping noise I can recall. But after that, nothing. I’m told that a part of the scaffolding worked itself loose, and came right down on me. I was knocked out by the impact, and I must have bled spectacularly from the head wound, so apparently people feared the worst. (Addressing Sherlock, rather grumpily) I wish they wouldn’t make such a fuss. It’s a broken collarbone and a concussion, no more. (To John) Not exactly fatal, is it?
JOHN (cautiously): Very rarely. (A pause.) It sounds like you were very lucky, though. It could have ended much worse.
JUDGE TALBOT: I readily concede that, yes.
SHERLOCK (to the judge): What happened to your hearing?
JUDGE TALBOT (straight-faced): My ears were not affected. What gives you the impression that they were?
The muscles in Sherlock’s face are working with the effort it takes him not to snap out a scathing reply. The judge, who is watching him closely, chuckles again. John screws up his face, braced for an explosion.
JUDGE TALBOT (with a slightly condescending smile): The court session was postponed, naturally. There has been many a joke made about judges dozing off in court. But to have a session presided over by a judge who is actually out cold from a metal bar falling on his head would be a daring first, I believe.
Sherlock rolls his eyes, but doesn't deign to reply. John inconspicuously draws his leg back under his own chair, his right foot no longer poised directly above Sherlock’s left, ready for an admonitory kick should the need arise.
JOHN: Just postponed?
JUDGE TALBOT: Yes, of course. Ah, I see what you mean. Could anyone have been interested in putting it off? The answer’s no. Even if I’d died, as you both seem so convinced I should have done, the case would have been taken over by a colleague, and would have gone ahead regardless, with only a short delay.
SHERLOCK: It was a public hearing? Anyone could have attended?
JUDGE TALBOT: Yes. And anyone could have known I’d walk through that archway ten minutes before it was scheduled to start, to answer your next question.
JOHN: Can you think of anyone from a past case who might have wished you ill? Anyone who might have held a grudge?
JUDGE TALBOT: Well, of the two parties in the courtroom with him, the judge will never fail to disappoint at least one with his ruling. Sometimes both. It's in the nature of the task. But we at the Companies Court deal with money, not with emotions. Unlike at the criminal courts or the family courts, we very rarely see feelings running high. I’ll admit that I’m not known for the leniency of my judgments, but making personal enemies is most definitely not my bailiwick.
JOHN (tentatively): If you don’t mind us asking - has there ever been anything in your private life that might -
JUDGE TALBOT: - end in violence? (He actually laughs.) Oh, please. (To Sherlock) Please reassure your companion that you can see no indication whatsoever that that might be the case.
JOHN (to Sherlock, confused): What?
JUDGE TALBOT (to Sherlock): But I do apologise for the insulting simplicity of the exercise. If I'd known you were coming, I'd have taken care to make it more of a challenge.
Sherlock glowers at the judge, then turns to John with the resigned sigh of a much put-upon man.
SHERLOCK (grudgingly): Well, there is no indication. (He jerks his head at the judge.) My Lord is a widower. He wears a wedding ring on his hand but a hospital-issued nightgown instead of proper pyjamas, which suggests that he no longer shares his home with anyone who would have brought him something more dignified to wear.
His eyes travel across to the cluttered bedside table.
SHERLOCK: He’s on excellent terms with his ch- - two children and their families, however. Other than that, my Lord is too dedicated to his work to want to waste his rare free time with private petty feuds, conflicts and disputes as well. (He leans back in his chair again.) He surely gets enough of that as it is in his official capacity.
JUDGE TALBOT (to John, with a broad smile): Conclusive, isn’t it?
SHERLOCK (rather sharply): Conclusive so far, but barely comprehensive.
JUDGE TALBOT (jovially): Well, in other circumstances, it would be a pleasure to watch you dig deeper, Mr Holmes. But I admit that this unfortunate accident of mine has left me feeling my age. And I’m instructed that rest and quiet is the most conducive remedy for a concussion. (To John) Isn’t that right, Doctor?
JOHN (remembering his manners): Yes. Yes, of course. (He gives Sherlock a pointed look.) We’ll be off, then. Thank you for your time, sir.
He gets up from his chair. Sherlock follows suit. The judge nods to them pleasantly by way of dismissal. When Sherlock is almost at the door, he turns back.
SHERLOCK: That hearing. Has it been rescheduled yet?
JUDGE TALBOT: To Monday 17th. (With a smile) Why, are you going to suggest that I should be secretly flown in by helicopter, just to make sure people will let me enter my own courtroom unmolested this time?
INT. – Royal London Hospital – Corridor - DAY
Sherlock and John are walking down a long corridor in the hospital, on their way to the exit. Sherlock has buried his hands in the pockets of his coat. He’s fuming. John is looking rather amused.
SHERLOCK (muttering under his breath): Pompous prat.
JOHN (with a grin): Says who?
Sherlock glares at him.
JOHN: So, now you'll spend the rest of the day digging through Justice Talbot’s private life, until you discover a long-forgotten affair with his secretary twenty-five years ago or something, just to prove that he's got something to hide after all?
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Very funny, John.
JOHN: Oh, come on. You don’t need to like it when you find yourself on the receiving end for once, but you could take it with a little more grace.
SHERLOCK: I don’t need grace, I need to think.
JOHN: About what he told us? Well, that’s as clear as daylight, isn’t it? He's the victim for the second verse of the Dies Irae. He got lucky, that’s all, but he could easily have been as dead as the Hedlunds.
SHERLOCK (impatiently): John, if we’re to consider every narrow miss like that the possible work of a psychopathic killer, we’ll never get anywhere. Our lives are made up of near misses. There’s no significance at all in someone not getting killed by a piece of collapsing scaffolding.
JOHN: Come on! It was exactly how it says in the Dies Irae verse: “How much trembling there will be, when the Judge will come, to investigate everything strictly!” He used that exact same word, Sherlock, he said the scaffold “trembled” before it came down on him.
SHERLOCK: Yes, John, I know. (With a grimace) There’s nothing wrong with my hearing, either.
JOHN: But we are going to ask Greg to look into how exactly that scaffold came to collapse, right?
SHERLOCK (walking on, over his shoulder): I thought we were going to send him look for a dead tuba now?
JOHN (rolling his eyes in exasperation): It's not like we have a better lead to work on!
Sherlock halts again, turns back and gives John a very condescending look.
SHERLOCK: Oh, John, of course we do. Judge Talbot has given us exactly the lead we needed.
JOHN: I was in the room, Sherlock, he didn’t say anything very helpful.
SHERLOCK: He didn't, but you know what they say about actions speaking louder than words.
He strides on, leaving John shaking his head.
Puzzle No. 3:
What is Sherlock’s new lead?
Newspaper image by RubraSaetaFictor
Talbot's bedside photo by Jolie_Black
INT. - New Scotland Yard – Greg Lestrade's office – DAY
Friday, 7 March 2014
In Greg Lestrade's small office at New Scotland Yard, Greg, Sherlock and John are holding a council of war. Greg sits at his - rather cluttered - desk. Sherlock is in a visitor’s chair in front of it, facing him with his arms crossed and a massive pout on his face. John stands leaning against a low filing cabinet by the wall to Sherlock's right.
LESTRADE (in a sensible tone, as if talking to a sulking child, which, in fact, is exactly what he’s doing): Sherlock, I’ll happily look into that accident at the Royal Courts of Justice, if you think it could lead us anywhere. But I can’t just walk up to a High Court judge and tell him to hand over his current files to you for bedtime reading.
SHERLOCK (stubbornly): But don’t you see how odd it is that he’s using them for that? Think! Talbot’s just had a severe accident - a brush with death, in fact. He’s concussed, he’s got broken bones, he’s been unconscious. But what’s the first thing he does when he wakes up? He gets his staff to bring him the last file he was working on right to his hospital room, and he immediately reschedules the case to the earliest possible date.
LESTRADE: Maybe he’s just got a very strong sense of duty.
SHERLOCK: No, he knows his accident had something to do with his latest case. And now he’s hurrying to get it over and done with. And he’s physically sitting on the files, too. Why, if not because he’s afraid that someone will tamper with them or make them disappear in the meantime? (He leans forward in his chair. Urgently) I need to see them, Lestrade. I need to know what’s haunting him.
LESTRADE: I told you, I’ve no authority to -
Sherlock lets himself fall back into his chair with a disdainful snort.
JOHN (to Sherlock): No, wait. You’re saying Talbot was attacked because of a case he was working on. Where’s the connection with the Hedlunds?
SHERLOCK: There probably is none.
LESTRADE (dismayed): You mean they were really after the judge, and only killed the Hedlunds first as a red herring? So we’d go looking for some demented religious fanatic that doesn’t exist?
SHERLOCK: No, I mean there is no connection. (He abruptly points at Greg’s forehead with an outstretched arm, the tip of his finger almost touching it.) Except in your silly little impressionable heads.
LESTRADE (recoiling, startled): Jesus, stop it.
JOHN (to Sherlock): What was Talbot’s last case, anyway?
SHERLOCK: Fornitori Automobilistici Tosca SpA versus Jaguar Land Rover Limited. (Disdainfully) My father could have read that upside down without his reading glasses on, John.
LESTRADE: Something from the car industry?
JOHN (on the verge of a triumphant grin): Greg, what car did the Hedlunds drive?
LESTRADE (unconvinced): A Volvo probably, being Swedish.
But he does John the favour and turns to the electronic file on his computer to check. Meanwhile, Sherlock tilts his chair backwards and starts rocking it gently, looking out of the window with an air of ostentatious indifference.
LESTRADE (after a minute of two of research, looking up): A Mercedes.
SHERLOCK (still looking out of the window): Told you. No connection. (He lets the chair slump back down, and faces Lestrade again.) Fine. Now, what progress have you made, since you don’t want me to make any?
LESTRADE: Oh, lots. (He leans back in his chair and folds his hands over his belly, looking smug.) For one, I’ve found out who your Grey Messenger was.
John gapes. Sherlock does a little better at hiding his surprise, but even he can’t hide it entirely.
SHERLOCK: You what?
LESTRADE: Well, it's all over the internet. (He turns to his computer again and clicks his way to a website. Reading off the screen) “The man who commissioned the Requiem from Mozart has been identified by scholars as Count Franz von Walsegg, from Stuppach in Lower Austria. Walsegg was an eccentric aristocrat and amateur musician who had a penchant for commissioning works from composers of the day and then passing them off as his own in private performances. His wife Anna had died young earlier in the year 1791; the Requiem was to be performed --"
SHERLOCK (with an impatient wave of his hand): Yes, thank you, Inspector, we all know how to use Wikipedia. Any real progress?
JOHN: Hang on - I know it sounds weird, but what if it was a Walsegg who brought us the tickets?
SHERLOCK: The Walsegg family died out in the late nineteenth century, John. That would make it rather difficult for any of them to turn up on our doorstep in twenty-first century London, don't you think?
LESTRADE: Well, they died out according to the internet, but who knows? You were dead for two full years, too, remember?
SHERLOCK (testily): Two years, yes, but not over a hundred.
JOHN: There could be leads there though, couldn't there? (He ticks off the keywords on his fingers.) Austria, nobility, eccentric, classical music, spouse recently deceased – our killer must have identified with Count Walsegg for a reason.
LESTRADE: And look at his MO. He doesn't just kill people, or try to. He re-creates the images from the Dies Irae hymn, he re-enacts that moment from Mozart's life, or from the movie at least... He's definitely going for the effect just as much as for the result. (To Sherlock) You may think we're just getting carried away, but he wants to conjure up these ideas in our silly little impressionable heads, doesn't he?
SHERLOCK (dismissively): Smoke and mirrors. The only thing that will get us anywhere are facts. I thought you had some of those.
LESTRADE (looking smug again): I know what our Count Walsegg does for a living.
JOHN: How the hell do you know that?
LESTRADE: From simple door-to-door enquiries. The Hedlunds’ house is in a quiet residential street, so there are no CCTV cameras. But a neighbour from across the street saw a workmen’s van stop at the house earlier that afternoon, an hour or so before the fire was reported. Some sort of building business, she thought. Two men in workmen’s overalls got out, rang the bell and entered the house. The witness went out herself shortly afterwards to do her shopping, and only returned when the fire was already raging, and the firemen were there fighting it. The van was gone again by then, of course.
JOHN: Two men?
LESTRADE: She thought so, but she didn't really look. Besides, the van was blocking the view.
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): And there we were hoping for a concise description of a recently bereaved eccentric Austrian aristocrat.
JOHN (slightly miffed): Could still be true.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock): Oh, and since you were wondering about Anderson – who was neither Austrian nor recently bereaved last time I saw him, by the way - he says he’ll be in touch with you about Wednesday night.
SHERLOCK: Good. What about the van?
LESTRADE: I've got two people reviewing the footage from all the cameras on the adjoining main roads right now. We’ll get there.
SHERLOCK: Hardly fast enough, I should think.
LESTRADE: Would you rather wait and see whether you get any complimentary tickets for the next Mozart concert in town? (He shuffles through the papers littering his desk, pulls out a copy of the Time Out magazine and opens it on a page marked with a post-it note. Speaking to John rather than Sherlock) Call me crazy, but I thought I’d check when the next one’s gonna be. (Reading from the page) Tuesday 18th, “The Salzburg Years - Mozart’s early chamber music,” performed by Royal College of Music students at the –
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Well, if nothing else, this case will have given you a solid musical education by the time we’re through with it. Your colleagues will be impressed.
LESTRADE (with a rueful little laugh): What? Not with me. There’s far too much real musical talent here at the Met for that. Just take DI Dimmock.
JOHN (in a suddenly quite enthusiastic tone): Oh yes, of course! (To Sherlock) Dimmock plays a killer trombone.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, amused): Yeah, it’s true. I keep telling you not to miss the Homicide and Serious Crime Christmas dos, don’t I? John knows what I’m talking about.
JOHN (emphatically): He’s brilliant. He and the rest of the Met's brass band.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock): You should really go and hear them some day. (He starts leafing through his desk calendar.) Let me look, Dimmock said something about next Monday… Ah, no, that’s a funeral, not a concert.
SHERLOCK (perking up his ears): A funeral?
LESTRADE: Yeah. Our bigwigs automatically get the band to be part of their funeral cortege, if the families want it. (With a wry smile) We rank and file have to go to our graves in silence, unless we manage to die in the line of duty, of course. Nothing gets you more attention than that.
SHERLOCK: It's a service funeral?
LESTRADE: Yeah, Commander Cunningham. (Seeing both Sherlock and John drawing a blank at the name) Raymond Cunningham? (John shakes his head.) Splendid career in the force. Borough Commander of Westminster by the time he retired in 2008 or thereabouts. Went on to do a lot of consulting work abroad then. Police organisation, anti-corruption strategies, that sort of thing. A dozen emerging nations owe an at least half-way decent police force to him. Died last week, due to be buried on Monday.
SHERLOCK: To the music of DI Dimmock's tuba mirum -
He looks across at John with a mock-encouraging smile, inviting him to make the connection. John’s eyebrows fly up.
JOHN: “ - sending a wondrous sound through the sepulchres of the regions”. Bloody hell.
SHERLOCK (with a smirk): I knew you were going to jump at that.
JOHN (crossing his arms): I'd really like to know how you'll explain that one away, now.
Lestrade has been looking back and forth between the two friends with a look of increasing bewilderment on his face.
LESTRADE: Hello? Care to let me in on the joke?
JOHN (to Lestrade, soberly): The third verse of the Dies Irae, Greg. “A trumpet, sending a wondrous sound through the sepulchres of the regions, will summon all before the Throne.”
There is a silence.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, in a tone of utter disbelief): Are you saying that Dimmock is somehow implicated in this?
SHERLOCK (straight-faced): No, the Queen. There’s a mention of a throne, isn’t there?
Lestrade puts his hands to the sides of his face and squeezes his eyes shut, trying to make sense of what he’s just heard. Obviously failing, he looks up again with a grimace.
LESTRADE: Okay. What are we looking at?
SHERLOCK: An impending murder by firing squad, of course.
LESTRADE (helplessly): What?
SHERLOCK: Someone will forget to replace the ammunition with blank cartridges, and fire their three-volley salute at one of the mourners instead of in the air. Or at the band, depending on how badly they played.
LESTRADE (not amused): Three-volley salutes are for line-of-duty deaths only.
SHERLOCK (in a tone of mock disappointment): Oh, you killjoy. I thought I’d just solved it, and was looking forward to a day off.
LESTRADE: What do you mean?
SHERLOCK: That John will insist now that we have to go and see for ourselves what Count Walsegg’s got in mind for Verse Three.
LESTRADE: But if that’s our next clue, we can’t just sit around until Monday and wait for the next poor bugger to snuff it!
SHERLOCK (rising to his feet): Who said we would? You’ve got plenty of homework to do, Lestrade. A builder's van, and those sandblasters at the court – that should keep you busy enough over the weekend, don’t you think?
He turns on his heel and strides out of the room, merrily whistling the trombone solo from the Tuba Mirum movement of Mozart’s Requiem at twice the usual tempo. Lestrade slumps back in his chair, looking rather defeated. John grins sympathetically, then follows his friend out.
INT. - The Watson’s home - The Sitting Room - NIGHT
That evening, at their home, John and Mary are sitting together on their sofa. John is leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, his eyes on the screen of the TV that's set up across from the sofa. Mary is sitting back, her feet up, her toes curled up behind John’s back, an almost-empty glass of red wine in her hand. John’s own glass stands on the coffee table directly in front of the sofa, barely touched. On the TV screen, the end credits of a movie are rolling, to the music of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 in D minor, K. 466. After a moment, John sits back and looks across at Mary.
JOHN: Well? What do you think?
MARY: Bit long, to be honest. (She stifles a yawn.) But it’s a good movie. The costumes are gorgeous. And I’d never have thought of Mozart as a funny character, but it’s quite -
JOHN: I meant -
MARY (putting her hand on his arm in a conciliatory gesture): I know what you meant. The messenger, the Requiem, Dies Irae, the whole bit. (She scrunches her nose up a little.) Well, I’m not sure.
John grabs the DVD case off the coffee table and holds it up.
JOHN: A man shows up at Baker Street dressed like this, gives Sherlock tickets to Mozart’s Requiem, and that night we find David and Sibylla burnt to a crisp. Verse One. The next day a judge is brought down by a trembling from above. Verse Two. Next Monday, there’ll be trumpets blown in a graveyard, and God knows what awful thing will happen then. Verse Three.
MARY: But I don’t really see how it all pulls together. I don’t think they even mentioned the Dies Irae in the film. And I thought you thought it was the same person who put you in the bonfire. Wouldn’t he be burning these other people then, too?
JOHN: It wouldn’t match the hymn.
MARY: Yes, that hymn... (She picks up her phone from the coffee table and starts scrolling on it.) Hang on, I did a bit of reading on the train back… (She has found what she was looking for.) The thing is, the Dies Irae wasn’t Mozart’s idea. It had already been around for ages, since Medieval times. The Catholics used it for funeral masses for centuries, and it only fell into disuse a couple of decades ago, when it was replaced with something more comforting. (She looks up from the screen with a wry smile.) It really doesn’t make for a kindly send-off, does it, to threaten people with the horrors of hellfire?
JOHN: What does all that have to do with putting me in a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Day?
MARY: That was the Catholics, too. Back then, I mean. Remember, the Gunpowder Plot was a conspiracy of English Catholics to blow up Parliament and bring down the King.
JOHN: So you think there’s an angry Catholic out to seek revenge? On who? On me? For what?
MARY (with a sigh): I know. It doesn’t make a terrible lot of sense. (She puts her phone down again and takes another sip of wine.) But you know what I noticed? When you told me what Greg’s found out?
JOHN: Well, what?
MARY: That there were two men. Those men that were at the Hedlunds’ house, I mean. You always talk about “him”, as if it was a single person. But when you were kidnapped on Guy Fawkes Day, there were two men, too, you said, who bumped into you on purpose and then drugged you. Same when you and Sherlock got the Requiem message. One man only rang the bell and talked to Mrs Hudson. But if he was gone again so quickly, he must have had an accomplice who waited for him in the car. There’s never any parking on that stretch of Baker Street, so the Messenger can’t have risked just leaving his empty car right in the road. So, what I’m saying is, you’re very likely not dealing with one single deranged psychopath. You’re probably dealing with a whole group of very determined and very well-organised people.
JOHN: Deranged psychopaths sometimes come in groups, too. Think of Islamist terror cells. Not all madmen are lone wolves. Even Anderson runs this whole silly fan club of -
He breaks off.
MARY: What is it?
JOHN: I’ve just remembered that Anderson still owes us an alibi for Ash Wednesday evening. But - no. It can’t be him. He’s a bit nuts, and he set up this stupid “Jack the Ripper” scam, but he practically worships Sherlock. Why would he want to harm him?
MARY (sadly): He wouldn’t be the first fan to do something crazy to the object of their adoration. (She takes the DVD case from John’s hands and holds it in her lap, contemplating it.) The villain in this, Salieri, loved Mozart’s music, too. And yet he dressed up in that hat and mask, and killed him.
The end credits are over, and the music fades. The muscles in John’s face are working, but he seems to have trouble verbalising his thoughts. He absentmindedly takes the remote control and switches the TV off.
MARY (quietly): I know what you’re thinking, John, and I’m thinking the same. Sherlock may scoff at the idea, but this movie - (She drops the empty DVD case back onto the table.) - is all about killing a genius.
JOHN: But no one’s done anything to Sherlock.
MARY: Doesn’t mean they haven’t tried. Think about it. Back in November, when you were kidnapped, I got that mysterious message, which I’m sure they knew I’d take to Sherlock to solve. And he ran right into that fire after you.
JOHN: They couldn’t know he’d do that.
MARY: Couldn’t they? His disregard for personal safety is all over your blog. Now, you said he secretly went into the Hedlunds’ house before it was secured? (John nods.) It could have collapsed on him at any minute, but isn’t that, too, exactly the kind of thing you’d expect him to do?
JOHN: I suppose so, yeah. (He distractedly runs a hand through his hair, making it stand on end.) So you believe that the other victims are decoys, and the Messenger's just using them to lure Sherlock into danger?
MARY: What better way to murder someone than by playing on the victim’s own well-known recklessness? Everyone would think that he brought it on himself.
JOHN (deeply unsettled): Jesus.
Mary reaches out and takes John’s hand.
MARY (firmly): You’ll keep him safe, John. I know it.
John attempts to smile, but it comes out rather half-heartedly.
JOHN: Tell me how. The next thing he’s got planned is to walk right into a gathering of a hundred police officers on Monday who almost all have a personal reason to dislike him, and who won’t be happy to see him meddling in police work again. How am I to stop him?
MARY: You don’t have to stop him. Just go there with him, and don’t let him out of your sight.
She gives John’s hand another encouraging squeeze, then lets go and leans back again. She props her arm up on the back of the sofa and rests her head on her hand.
MARY (deliberately changing the subject): But you know what I’m still dying to know? What Sherlock really found out when he went into that burned-out house.
JOHN: Nothing, he said.
MARY (with a mischievous grin): And you really believe him?
JOHN: Yes. I told him to his face that I was going to stop working on the case with him if he was withholding evidence just for the sake of playing mysterious again. But he swore to me that he truly found nothing in there that related to the case, and hadn’t expected to, either.
MARY (frowning): But then what did he go in there for?
JOHN (with a resigned sigh): For samples. Said it was nearly impossible to get temperatures that high at home.
MARY (puzzled): Samples?
JOHN: For his ash collection. (She raises an eyebrow at him.) Don’t ask.
Mary regards John for a moment with a straight face, but then she bursts out in affectionate laughter, shaking her head. After a moment, John, too, relaxes enough for at least a chuckle.
Court file photo by Jolie_Black
Tuba mirum spargens sonum,
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum.
The trumpet, sending a wondrous sound
Through the sepulchres of the regions,
Will summon all before the Throne.
(Dies Irae , Verse 3)
EXT. - Cemetery, London - DAY
Monday, 10 March 2014
A cemetery somewhere in Greater London. Sherlock and John are sitting side by side on the grey stone wall encircling the compound, dangling their legs, watching from afar as a sombre cortege winds its way down a gravel path, lined with ancient oaks and leaning gravestones covered in lichen and moss, to where a neatly dug hole awaits the dead Commander Cunningham at the end of a row of more recent, well-kept headstones.
Six bare-headed police officers in dress uniform and white gloves carry the coffin on their shoulders. Behind it walk the minister presiding over the funeral and a little lady dressed in black, presumably the widow, on the arm of a red-eyed young man, presumably her grown-up son. Then come the members of the Met's brass band. The music of a brass version of the “Air on the G-string” from Bach’s 3rd Orchestral Suite comes wafting towards Sherlock and John. Behind the musicians follow many more mourners. The majority of them are in uniform, mostly in that of the Metropolitan Police. But there are groups of others, too, some consisting entirely of black officers, some exclusively Asian – clearly delegations from grateful foreign nations the Commander has advised on police matters.
SHERLOCK (looking around, in a flat voice): Nothing's happening.
JOHN (nodding towards the cortege): An honourable and well-respected man is being carried to his grave.
SHERLOCK: Nothing interesting, I mean.
John gives him a disapproving look.
JOHN: Maybe we're not looking closely enough?
SHERLOCK: What do you mean?
JOHN: What if there's a second body in the coffin that's got no business to be there?
SHERLOCK: Impossible. The coffin bearers would be bound to notice the added weight.
JOHN: What if it isn't Cunningham in there, but someone else entirely?
SHERLOCK: No, by the news pictures, it's definitely him.
John turns his head to give his friend a very disconcerted look.
SHERLOCK (looking straight ahead): Don't worry. The screws are back on, nobody's going to notice.
JOHN (not reassured in the least): Alright.
There is a silence while the cortege is moving further away from them.
JOHN (pensively): How is it that one of the bearers is always just a little too short?
SHERLOCK: One’s always out of step, too.
The music ends, and for a moment, there is nothing to be heard but the faint chirping of birds and the gravel crunching under the mourners’ feet as they arrive at the open grave and move to stand around it in a semi-circle. The six coffin bearers can be seen to lower their burden.
SHERLOCK: Oh, thank goodness. I take your word for it that they know how to do Louis Armstrong, but they should really keep their hands off Bach.
EXT. - Cemetery – DAY
A little later, the – evidently uneventful - funeral is over. The mourners and the band disperse. DI Dimmock, looking sharp but ever so slightly uncomfortable in his smart navy blue dress uniform and flat cap, comes walking across the grassy ground to join Sherlock and John by their wall. He's carrying a black trombone case, immediately recognisable by its distinctive shape. He smiles a little diffidently at them both, clearly at a loss how to start the conversation. John hops down and offers him his hand, while Sherlock stays on the wall. Dimmock gratefully takes John's hand and shakes it, a little longer than strictly necessary.
DIMMOCK: Doctor Watson. (Looking up at Sherlock so as not to address the man's knees) Mr Holmes. I'm honoured to meet you again. I'm afraid the morning didn't live up to its promise, though.
He gestures around at the quiet scene.
SHERLOCK (in a would-be generous tone): Oh, I wouldn't say that. Your band's performance actually surpassed my expectations.
DIMMOCK (tentatively flattered): Oh?
SHERLOCK: Yes. I'm thinking of booking you for my next funeral.
He, too, hops down in a flurry of coattails.
DIMMOCK: Oh. Right. Yes. Well – neither the checkpoints at the gates nor our people keeping watch all around the perimeter wall reported anything suspicious. No disturbances, nobody there who shouldn't have been, nobody trying to smuggle in a weapon... I even personally checked all the band's instrument cases. (He raises his trombone case.) This one could easily house a disassembled submachine gun.
SHERLOCK: Yes, I know. (With an amused glance at John) The famous “killer trombone”. (To Dimmock) You were our prime suspect.
DIMMOCK (taken aback): I – what?
SHERLOCK (deadpan): Only until we realised that you were the ideal victim, of course.
Dimmock blanches. His mouth opens and closes soundlessly several times. John gives Sherlock a reproachful look.
DIMMOCK (seeing it and cottoning on): Ah. Um. Alright . (He takes off his cap and wipes his brow with his forearm, trying to smooth out his ruffled feathers, but only ruffling his precisely parted hair in the process.) Well, we scared the killer off, I suppose.
SHERLOCK: Quite likely, if his love for Bach is as great as his love for Mozart.
Dimmock, who has only just regained his usual colour, now turns beet red.
JOHN (to Dimmock, in a kindly tone): Well, I for one am glad that the only corpse involved in today's business was already past help anyway. (He shoots Sherlock another disapproving glance. To Dimmock) Not your fault the audience was cheated out of any more morbid entertainment, Inspector.
Sherlock is looking straight back at John, not chastised in the least, but not really paying attention, either. A slight frown on his face indicates that something John has just said has set the cogs turning in his head.
DIMMOCK (to John): Well, thank you. (He claps his cap back on.) Yeah, it's a bad enough business as it is, without any new trouble on top. Will be all over the papers now, of course. But that was to be expected. No way the minister wasn't going to mention it in the service...
JOHN: Sorry, mention what?
DIMMOCK: How he died. Hasn't Lestrade told you? Our press release just made it a "sudden tragic loss" of course, but in fact Commander Cunningham committed suicide.
SHERLOCK (abruptly shifting his focus to Dimmock, very sharply): Suicide?
DIMMOCK: Yes. Threw himself down a bridge in front of a Thameslink train, not two miles from here.
Sherlock continues to fix the policeman with a rather disconcerting stare. John looks back and forth between them, frowning.
DIMMOCK (raising his free hand defensively, rather flustered): Now, come on, Mr Holmes. I know what you're thinking now, about me taking murders for suicides. But it's true this time. Of course nobody at the Met wanted to believe it either. His closest family wouldn't have dreamed of it.
JOHN: You mean it was unexpected?
DIMMOCK: Totally, yes. He was such an active man, Cunningham, always on the go, always looking for the next challenge. He could have taken it easy, with a Commander's pension. But he wasn't the type to sit still long, let alone brood. He didn’t do all that consulting work for the money, he really believed in what he was doing. (With a sigh.) Still, not all that uncommon, is it, that people hide depression under a workaholic attitude?
JOHN: That happens, yes. (Almost inadvertently, he glances at Sherlock again. Sherlock is looking over both their heads into the middle distance, towards Commander Cunningham's now abandoned grave.) Well. Sherlock? Ready to go now?
SHERLOCK: Yes… (He turns his attention back to his friend then. His face is a mask.) Nothing left here for us to do, John. We were too late again.
EXT. - Cemetery Car Park - DAY
The car park outside the main gates of the cemetery. The guard at the gate has already been disbanded. The numerous police cars that were parked outside are beginning to leave. Some officers - both dressed-up mourners and on-duty ones in their work uniforms - are getting into their vehicles. Others are lingering to chat. Among these is Greg Lestrade, in conversation with some uniformed colleagues. At the far end of the car park, well away from the gates and Lestrade’s group, a small knot of reporters, photographers and camera teams is gathered around a rather harrassed-looking press officer. Apparently, the news that Commander Cunningham committed suicide is already making the rounds.
Sherlock and John come walking out of the gate, both looking less than content. Lestrade spots them and leaves his group to approach them. They’re still ten feet apart when Sherlock calls out to him, his voice loud with irritation.
SHERLOCK: Why didn’t you tell us it was suicide?
LESTRADE (with a grimace): Christ, will you pipe down? (He glances over his shoulder at the reporters, but none of them seem to have taken notice yet.) No need to trumpet that out all over the place!
John, in spite of himself, grins at Lestrade’s choice of words. Sherlock seems less than amused.
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade, in an accusatory tone): Why didn’t you mention that Cunningham killed himself?
LESTRADE: How was I to know it was relevant?
SHERLOCK (waspishly): Kindly leave the assessment of what’s relevant or not to me, Inspector!
LESTRADE (belligerently): Well, is it relevant? You’d better be damned sure of the accuracy of your assessments, Sherlock. I’ve just put a police funeral under police protection, for no better reason than that you told me to. I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole force if it turns out that it was nothing but a grand waste of taxpayers’ money! As well as a very funny joke that I’ll never hear the end of!
SHERLOCK (gesturing around at the police cars): I could easily have spared you all this trouble if you’d bothered to tell me that the next victim was already dead and coffined anyway!
LESTRADE: Oh, now it’s my fault you got cheated out of yet another gory murder?
SHERLOCK (coolly): He didn’t cheat. He just got ahead of us again, no thanks to you.
LESTRADE: Sherlock, it was suicide. We've got witnesses, we've got a coroner's verdict -
John clears his throat significantly.
SHERLOCK (impatiently): What?
JOHN (jerking his head discreetly at the reporters): They’re getting interested now.
LESTRADE (glancing over his shoulder again ): Oh, damn. (In a lower tone, to Sherlock) Alright. Keep shouting if you must, but not here, okay?
INT. - Café, London - DAY
A small, unpretentious café somewhere in the vicinity of the cemetery. Sherlock, John and Lestrade have taken a table, covered with a red and white chequered tablecloth, near one of the windows. They all have cups of coffee in front of them, and empty plates with crumbs on them - obviously remnants from the small selection of cakes and sandwiches on display in the glass case of the counter. Behind the counter, a young woman is drying and putting away crockery. There’s a low hum of talk from the other patrons, which conveniently masks the three men’s conversation. Maybe due to the coffee, the food and the warmth of the room, the previous confrontational tone is gone from it, and the three of them seem quite at their ease with each other again. Lestrade leans back in his chair, concluding his account of the coroner’s verdict.
LESTRADE: So he clearly jumped of his own free will. I know we’ve seen murders disguised as suicides before, but this isn’t one of them. The train driver’s statement coincided perfectly with that of the two ladies just coming up on the other side of the bridge. They all saw him climb up onto the railing, then push himself off and down. Nobody anywhere near him, not for thirty yards in every direction . (Emphatically) There’s no way anyone could have pushed him, or forced him to jump at gunpoint, or whatever it is you’re imagining.
JOHN: What about the witnesses? The ones on the bridge, I mean?
LESTRADE: Residents from nearby. A lady in her late eighties, pushing her even older sister in her wheelchair for their daily breath of fresh air. They say they were terrified to see Cunningham climb up there, and they both shouted at him to get back down, but he ignored them. I think neither of them can be blamed for not rushing to his rescue in time, as frail and as far away as they were.
SHERLOCK: And no hint as to his motive for taking his life?
LESTRADE: None that we could find. The widow could provide absolutely no insights on that, and neither did his note.
JOHN: He left a note?
LESTRADE: To her, yes. “I love you. I’m so very sorry.” No more than that.
SHERLOCK (under his breath): How convenient.
LESTRADE: What was that?
SHERLOCK: Well, Commander Cunningham at least knew what the Dies Irae expected of him, didn’t he? “Face reddened with guilt,” “heart crushed into ashes”… he knew what had hit him, and made no secret of that, even if we could have wished him to be a bit more forthcoming about the details.
JOHN: What do you mean, “hit him?” (In a feeble attempt at joking) Other than the train?
SHERLOCK (heavily): The day of reckoning, John. The wages of his sins, real or imagined.
John and Lestrade exchange a slightly disquieted look across the table.
LESTRADE (sensibly): People don’t jump in front of trains just because they’re afraid of the Last Judgment. At least perfectly sane police officers don’t.
SHERLOCK (sardonically): I should hope so. (He leans back in his chair and crosses his legs.) But I’d like to know what you can find out about the last days of his life. Whom he met, whom he talked with on the phone, what he received in the mail.
LESTRADE: You don’t seriously believe that someone simply talked Cunningham into killing himself out of guilt about something? Or just sent him a Bible, with the Dies Irae marked?
SHERLOCK (impatiently): The Dies Irae as such isn’t in the Bible, Lestrade. It’s a conglomerate from all across the Old and New Testament. (Didactically) Some of the imagery is from the Book of Revelation, some of it is from Luke, some is from Matthew, and the opening verse goes back to the prophet Zephaniah, where it says in chapter one, verses fifteen and sixteen -
JOHN (to Sherlock): Since when are you so much at home in the Bible?
LESTRADE (taking a sip of his coffee): That’s probably a remnant from his stint in the Vatican.
JOHN (utterly surprised): His what?
Lestrade exchanges a look with Sherlock, then carefully composes his face into a neutral expression.
LESTRADE (to John): Didn't you know that Sherlock trained as a priest before he became a detective?
John's jaw drops, but then he rallies quickly.
JOHN: Not in a million years.
LESTRADE (deadpan): Sure?
But the corners of Sherlock's mouth are already twitching with suppressed mirth. John looks from one to the other, and Lestrade bursts out laughing heartily. Sherlock’s expression relaxes into a broad grin. They enjoy themselves at John's expense until John gets visibly impatient. Then they take pity on him.
LESTRADE (to John): The bit about the Vatican is true, though.
JOHN (to Sherlock): What the hell were you doing in the Vatican?
LESTRADE: What else?
SHERLOCK: The occasional headless nun they can deal with, but when they found a cardinal dead under very suspicious circumstances, the Vatican Corps of Gendarmerie realised they were out of their depth. So, in my anxiety to serve the Pope -
JOHN: Really not.
SHERLOCK: Alright. Maybe not.
LESTRADE: It was a private commission from the cardinal's family, wasn't it?
SHERLOCK: Yes. The Pope never knew I was there. But then, the Pope generally knows no more than five percent of what's going on in the Vatican anyway. If that. At any rate, the cardinal’s nieces and nephews found some valuables missing from his possessions when they came to pack them up after his death.
JOHN: What valuables?
SHERLOCK: Prized family heirlooms, dating back to the reign of Pope Urban VIII. A box of cameos.
John slaps his hand to his forehead. Sherlock grins again.
JOHN: But how did that become your code word for immediate danger?
SHERLOCK: Oh, just by association. The case proved barely a four, and the Tosca family still owe me a good part of my fee, but my sojourn in Rome was an extremely beneficial experience in other ways.
JOHN (doubtfully): Spiritually?
SHERLOCK: Not exactly. For the purpose of the investigation, the Vatican Gendarmerie agreed to give me a cover identity, one which would grant me inconspicuous access everywhere within the Vatican. And so I found myself in -
JOHN: - a cowl. With a tonsure.
LESTRADE (gleefully): Worse.
SHERLOCK (with great dignity): In the uniform of a Swiss Guard.
Now it's Lestrade and John's turn to burst into almost hysterical merriment. Sherlock looks mightily affronted.
JOHN (wiping his eyes): I need to see a picture of that. I need to see that. God, you in yellow and blue striped stockings?
SHERLOCK (crossing his arms, snappishly ): Well, John, you're not the only one here with the gift of looking dashing in a uniform.
LESTRADE (chuckling): And the headgear!
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade): Says PC Lestrade, or who?
LESTRADE (not chastened in the least): That's so long ago I don't remember.
JOHN (to Lestrade, with a fresh burst of amusement): Oh god. You in a bobby helmet? Now I need to see a picture of that, too.
LESTRADE (with a broad grin): All confiscated and destroyed a long time ago.
SHERLOCK (unsmiling): Anyway. The one useful thing I got out of the whole farce came from my roommates in the Swiss Guard barracks. They were the most intellectually uninspiring pair of people I've ever had the pleasure of living in close proximity with, but they taught me everything I know about hand-to-hand combat. They weren’t exactly the most patient of teachers - I was a bag of bruises for the first week or two - but they were terribly efficient.
JOHN (pulling a face): Doesn't sound very pleasant.
SHERLOCK: Well, the only other ways they knew how to spend an off-duty evening were discussing football or watching porn. I preferred the training.
LESTRADE (to John): Sherlock even pretended to take a fortnight longer than necessary to solve the case, just so he could master the finer points of some obscure system of Chinese wrestling, or something.
SHERLOCK: Japanese. It's called Baritsu.
LESTRADE (not listening, to John): At some point we thought we'd lost him to the Catholic church for good, just because nobody else could offer him the same constant level of violent excitement.
JOHN: Well, that explains a lot.
He gives Sherlock a slightly reproachful look, as if to complain that he's never been regaled with this story before. Sherlock shrugs.
SHERLOCK: Can we go back to the really interesting questions now?
LESTRADE: Such as?
SHERLOCK: Why is Philip Anderson avoiding me?
LESTRADE (with a humourless laugh): You didn’t expect him to be at the funeral, did you? It's not you he's avoiding.
JOHN: You mean he's too embarrassed to show his face among his former colleagues?
LESTRADE (ruefully): He couldn't do that, even if he wanted to . (To Sherlock) There's a court order that forbids him to come within two hundred yards of any police operation, event, or gathering. He's been barred from entering New Scotland Yard, too. Ever since he savaged the Commissioner on your behalf, shortly before his dismissal. (John grimaces. Lestrade lowers his voice and continues in a quiet tone.) I don't think you give him enough credit for what he went through after you faked your death, Sherlock. I got by, keeping my head down, and with some powerful protection, of course. But Anderson had his life turned upside down, and nothing to keep him on the rails, or put him back there.
SHERLOCK (contemptuously): Well, I certainly didn't ask him to set up this silly fan club and then make himself impossible about it. Don't make it sound like -
LESTRADE: - like it was your fault? That's not what I meant. It’s just - sometimes, an idea will take on a life of its own. They’re tricky, ideas, hard to control. Despite the best intentions, they can cause a lot of damage long after the person that came up with it in the first place has moved on. (He glances from Sherlock, who looks back at him stonily, to John, who has started fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat, and realises that he's in dangerous territory that has nothing to do with Anderson. He clears his throat.) Well, never mind. Anderson may be impressionable, but he's not a bad man. What was it you still want from him, anyway?
SHERLOCK: His alibi for Ash Wednesday, of course.
Lestrade abruptly sits back in his chair.
LESTRADE: What? Haven't you sorted that out with him yet?
SHERLOCK (evenly): He's proving rather elusive.
LESTRADE (bewildered): You mean he hasn't got in touch? He said he would!
SHERLOCK: Your faith in him is touching, but you may want to reconsider whether it's deserved.
Lestrade stares at Sherlock in disbelief. Then he frowns.
LESTRADE: What exactly is it you're saying?
SHERLOCK (coolly): I'm saying that I'm taking every possibility into account. And unlike you, I don't let sentimental considerations blind me to the facts. Someone's desperate for my attention, and seems willing to go to extraordinary lengths in order to get it. Of that at least, Philip Anderson has been guilty before.
Lestrade regards Sherlock with a pained look on his face, then shakes his head. But he's looking decidedly less sure of his case now.
Angel with trumpet picture from pixabay.com
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room - DAY
Monday, 10 March 2014
Later on the day of the funeral. Mycroft Holmes, as always in an impeccable three-piece suit, is sitting in John’s chair, reading the paperback biography of Napoleon that John left there on the night of Ash Wednesday. The door to the stairs stands ajar, but the flat is otherwise empty. After a moment, there are footsteps and voices on the stairs. Mycroft looks up briefly, then continues to read.
JOHN (off-screen): You never really thought Dimmock was a suspect, did you?
SHERLOCK (off-screen): Of course not. The only mystery he's ever presented me with was where that perpetually constipated expression on his face came from. Should have made me think of a trombone straight away.
Sherlock bangs the door fully open and strides into the room, John on his heels. Sherlock yanks off his scarf and tosses it on the sofa before turning sharply to address his brother.
SHERLOCK: How did you get in here?
MYCROFT (barely looking up from the book): Your landlady let me in, of course. Even offered me a cup of tea.
He nods to the steaming full cup on the small table beside him.
SHERLOCK: I’ll have to speak to her about letting undesirables in here again.
MYCROFT: Yes, I’m sure she has a difficult time differentiating me from the unwashed plebeians you generally have traipsing in and out of here.
SHERLOCK: My homeless network is useful. Can’t say the same for you. (He grabs Mycroft’s cup from the table, settles down in his own chair, and drinks some of the tea.) Why are you here?
MYCROFT: I’ve been out of the country for a week, can’t I have simply missed my little brother?
SHERLOCK: No. What do you want?
John, seeing no one offering him a cup of tea, and certainly not up for taking a swig from the communal cup himself, goes to the kitchen to get himself a cuppa. He switches the kettle on, then returns to the sitting room, takes off his jacket and puts it over the armrest of the sofa.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock): I’ve been in seven countries in as many days and I thought you might like to hear a travelogue.
SHERLOCK: No again.
MYCROFT: I have a matter I’d like you to look into.
SHERLOCK: Ah yes, there it is.
MYCROFT: So you’ll help?
SHERLOCK: Of course not.
MYCROFT: You don’t even know what it is.
Mycroft sighs, then turns to John and holds up the book on Napoleon he’s been reading.
MYCROFT (in an appreciative tone): Excellent choice, John. Walker's analysis of the Battle of Waterloo is one of the most clear-sighted and concise that I’ve read. He truly understands the mechanics of warfare . (John gives Sherlock a quick but very pointed look at this.) Have you looked into his most recent work yet, the Julius Caesar biography?
John pulls out a chair from under the table, turns it around so as to face Mycroft, and sits down in it, propping his elbow up on the backrest.
JOHN: No, not yet. Only came out this month, didn’t it?
MYCROFT: I saw he’s doing a book signing at Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street later this week.
JOHN: Sounds good. When exactly?
MYCROFT: When else?
JOHN (after a moment, smiling): Ah. Of course.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft, snidely): Why don’t you just tell John you want him to pick up a signed copy for you, too, Mycroft? Or better still, stop trying to rope him into your service, and go and get your own.
MYCROFT (with a slightly forced smile): Yes, well, speaking of roping people into my service -
SHERLOCK (crossing his legs and putting his hands together in front of him): Oh, right. You wanted me to stop the war in Iraq, I believe?
MYCROFT: I beg your pardon?
SHERLOCK: About time, don’t you think? For someone who thinks he truly understands the mechanics of warfare, you’ve made little progress on that in the last, what, ten years?. (John pulls a pained face. Mycroft does the same, if probably for very different reasons. Sherlock, seeing their expressions, sighs dramatically.) Alright, wrong. Not Baghdad, then. Brussels, maybe? Want me to save the European Monetary Union? Lost cause, too, if you ask me.
MYCROFT: In your private ear alone I’ll agree, but that’s not it, either. Though “money” is our cue.
SHERLOCK (immediately): Boring.
He takes another sip of his (Mycroft’s) tea.
MYCROFT (pointedly): Money that belongs to the Crown, and that’s sorely needed in our country’s current budgetary situation.
JOHN (conversationally): A lot of money?
Mycroft, clearly grateful for the chance to tell his story to a more willing listener, turns towards John.
MYCROFT: An estimated eight figures of unpaid taxes.
John purses his lips in a soundless whistle. Sherlock lets out a long impatient breath that makes the hair on his forehead dance. Mycroft shoots him an irritated glance, then turns his attention back to John.
MYCROFT: HM Revenue and Customs believe that a small but exclusive Swiss bank, the Bankhaus König, is running a very successful and very illegal investment scheme for wealthy British customers who wish to bypass British taxation laws. The picture is not complete yet by any means, but hundreds of UK residents could be implicated. So I went to Zurich last week in order to -
JOHN: - let yourself be shouted at by their awful director, I heard. Sorry about that.
SHERLOCK (with his eyes on Mycroft’s waistline): He doesn’t need your sympathy, John. Mycroft amply consoled himself when he stopped by a Lindt factory outlet on his way back to the airport.
Mycroft looks daggers at his brother, but makes no attempt to deny his little shopping detour.
JOHN (to Mycroft): So, erm - I see it’s a hell of a lot of money, but why are you -
MYCROFT: The UK and Switzerland are on the verge of signing a taxation treaty to stop such practices. So this little problem has a political significance far beyond this individual case.
JOHN: Right. How’s it a case for us, though?
SHERLOCK (in a flat voice): Mycroft wants all the tax evaders among their British customers prosecuted, of course.
JOHN: Ah. (He shrugs.) Well, go ahead, I’d say.
SHERLOCK (with an air of condescension): Oh, John, you don’t see the beauty of it. Mycroft has no idea who they are. (To Mycroft) Am I right?
MYCROFT: Unfortunately, yes. Our suspicions about this illegal business are the result of months of careful research on several fronts, and of putting together little jigsaw pieces from lots of different sources. But we don’t see the whole picture yet. Not by any means.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft): But you went ahead anyway and pretended to the Bankhaus König that you know all about it, and that they’d better stop the whole scheme and lay their books open? (Mycroft nods a little regretfully.) But they refuse to be impressed ? (Mycroft shrugs defensively.) Oh, that’s a pretty conundrum indeed. Congratulations on digging yourself in so thoroughly.
JOHN (to Mycroft): Well, if you’ve got no leverage against them yet, why don’t you just go and get it somewhere? I mean, couldn’t you just make a hacker get that customer list for you from the bank’s computers, or something? Or buy the information from a disaffected member of staff?
Mycroft and Sherlock exchange a look, Mycroft resigned, Sherlock highly amused.
SHERLOCK (to John): Oh, he’s already tried all that, John. He wouldn’t be here else.
MYCROFT (with grudging admiration): Swiss banking secrecy is still exactly as solid as its reputation. (With a significant look at his brother) So far. (Rather abruptly, he rises from his seat.) Well, Sherlock, can I rely on you to sort this out? Mr Sigrist, the bank's managing director, will be in London next week, and he’ll want my reassurance then that both he and his British customers will be left unmolested by us forever, taxation treaty or no. I’d hate to oblige him.
SHERLOCK (with a glaringly false smile): I hate to disoblige you, dear brother. But I have such a magnificent case on at the moment, I really don’t think I can spare the time to look into yet another self-made diplomatic mess of yours.
MYCROFT (rather sharply): Oh, yes, of course. There’s much more glory in running after a demented attention-seeking religious fanatic, just because they happen to share one's penchant for classical music.
JOHN (to Mycroft): How do you – Right. Never mind.
Mycroft smiles faintly.
SHERLOCK: Do me a favour in return, Mycroft, and I might consider taking your case after all.
MYCROFT (sarcastically): Ah? Dare I hope? Well, what is it?
SHERLOCK: Tell me the secret political significance of the Fornitori Automobilistici Tosca's lawsuit against Jaguar Land Rover.
MYCROFT (after a moment, with a frown): There’s none that I know of.
Sherlock studies his brother’s face for a moment. Mycroft holds his gaze, giving no sign of discomfort whatsoever. Then Sherlock smiles a small wry smile.
SHERLOCK: Of course not. How silly of me.
MYCROFT (with a sigh): There is none, Sherlock. And why should this concern you anyway? Unless, of course, you’re in the market for an automobile, though God knows what you’d want with that Land Rover of your dreams in Central London. You’d never find any place to park it.
SHERLOCK: Like you’ve ever had to park a car in Central London.
MYCROFT (with a smirk): Exactly.
He picks up his umbrella that has been leaning against the side of John’s chair, and nods to the chair’s usual occupant.
MYCROFT: Well, goodbye, John. Let me know when my brother is back out of the apocalyptic mindframe, and ready again for the problems of the here and now.
JOHN (doubtfully): Alright.
Mycroft turns to go. Sherlock pulls a face at his brother’s back.
MYCROFT (over his shoulder): I saw that. (He walks to the door, then halts and swivels on his heel to face his brother once more.) Are they your Toscas, by the way?
SHERLOCK (evenly): Distant cousins, I believe.
Mycroft nods non-committally, then takes his leave.
INT. - John’s Surgery - The Reception Area - DAY
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
John’s surgery, on the following morning, at a quarter to nine. The reception desk. Mary and John are getting ready for their working day. Mary, seated at the desk, is booting up the computer. John, leaning over her shoulder, is rifling through the desk calendar to check the morning’s appointments.
MARY (nodding at the calendar, cheerfully): Should be doable until lunch.
JOHN (straightening up): Yeah, no problem.
MARY (with a smile): And then Kew Gardens, as planned?
JOHN (returning her smile fondly): Of course.
Then suddenly, a shadow passes over his face. Mary, seeing it, gives his arm a gentle squeeze.
MARY: Hey. Don’t tell me you’re still worried? Everything was fine at the cemetery yesterday, wasn’t it? A false alarm.
JOHN: Only because the victim was already dead. The victim according to Sherlock, anyway.
MARY (surprised): Does that mean Sherlock’s started believing in the Dies Irae pattern now, too?
JOHN: I think so, yes. He’d never admit it, but he’d never have gone to the funeral if he really thought it was all nonsense. Nor gone to talk to the judge, come to think of it. And if he’s right that there was something fishy about Cunningham’s death, that means we’re up to Verse Four now.
MARY: Remind me?
JOHN: “Mors stupebit et natura, cum resurget creatura, judicanti responsura. Death and nature will marvel when the creature arises to respond to the Judge.”
MARY: That’s the judge again.
JOHN: And death again. And nature. So I thought for a moment – but never mind.
MARY (amused): - that it might be a bad idea to hang around Kew Gardens when there’s someone out there looking to commit a crime connected to nature?
JOHN (firmly): Yeah, I know. It's silly. (With a wry smile) And it’s not like we were gonna take Sherlock along anyway.
At this moment, John’s phone, in his pocket, pings a text alert. Mary laughs out loud.
MARY: Sounds like he disagrees.
John rolls his eyes. He takes out his phone and glances at the screen.
JOHN (under his breath, annoyed): Oh, go away.
He walks towards the door of his consulting room, already busy typing his answer. Mary smiles after him.
The Personal Blog of Dr John H. Watson
A musical puzzle
We’ve received a strange bit of music, and Sherlock is convinced it’s a code. Any guesses what it might say?
Musical puzzle picture by RubraSaetaFictor
The Personal Blog of Dr John H. Watson
Sherlock Holmes – 12:21 p. m.
I don’t see anyone solving this. Whatever happened to “ten idiots make one genius?”
John Watson - 12:26 p. m.
Oh, shut up and let them think.
John Watson - 12:29 p. m.
Anyone solves this by 2 p. m., you post that picture. :D
Sherlock Holmes - 12:43 p. m.
What picture? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
John Watson - 12:46 p. m.
Yes you do!
John Watson - 1:58 p. m.
We've got it.
Sherlock Holmes - 2:01 p. m.
Good. What's the message?
John Watson - 2:02 p. m.
The picture first, Sherlock. A deal's a deal!
Sherlock Holmes - 2:04 p. m.
If I must.
Happy now, everyone? Now what’s the message?
John Watson - 2:05 p.m.
I thought you said "dashing", not "bloody awkward". And the message is "Danger in the Natural History Museum”. It’s Verse Four.
Sherlock Holmes - 2:07 p.m.
It’s not even good grammar. And death and the wonders of nature at the Natural History Museum I’ll give you, but no creature is “arising”. Everything here has been dead for years. That may include some of the patrons, it’s hard to tell.
John Watson - 2:08 p.m.
John Watson – 2:09 p.m.
Wait, what do you mean, “here?”
Sherlock Holmes - 2:10 p.m.
Oh, I solved the code hours ago. It was really quite simple. The one difficulty that you have to get over in a musical cryptogram is that the musical scale only gives you the letters A to G. For the letters H to Z, you have to find additional parameters. So A to G was a given. The other 19 letters were variations on the note length. The eighth letter, H, was A again, but as a minim, or half note. O was A as a crotchet, or quarter note, etc. So I figured I’d come down to see if anything had happened.
John Watson - 2:11 p.m.
You WHAT?! You could get yourself killed!
Sherlock Holmes - 2:12 p.m.
Of boredom perhaps. Nothing of interest is happening here at all.
John Watson - 2:12 p.m.
There is a serial killer on the loose and as far as we know YOU’RE his ultimate target!
Sherlock Holmes - 2:14 p.m.
Not that nonsense again. No one's tried to lay a finger on me. Remember, that funeral wasn't a vicious death trap for consulting detectives either.
John Watson - 2:15 p.m.
I'll be at the museum in 15 minutes. Don’t do anything stupid until I get there!
Sherlock Holmes - 2:16 p.m.
So I’m allowed to do something stupid when you are here?
John Watson - 2:17 p.m
15 minutes. Try not to get yourself killed for 15 minutes, OK?
Swiss guard picture by LobozPics, edited by RubraSaetaFictor
Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Death and nature will marvel,
When the creature arises,
To respond to the Judge.
( Dies Irae, Verse 4)
INT. - Natural History Museum, London - Cadogan Gallery – DAY
Tuesday, 11 March 2014
The Cadogan Gallery at the Natural History Museum. Muted golden light filters through the magnificent stained glass windows and mingles with the discreet lighting of the glass cases displaying the exhibits – relics of from the dawn of modern science and early voyages of discovery, such as logbooks and bird's eggs. This is one of the quieter, less spectacular parts of the museum. There’s a muted noise of many voices and footsteps in the distance, a constant background drone of hundreds of visitors making their way through the vast halls and galleries. But the Cadogan Gallery itself is currently deserted.
Sherlock - obviously still alive - and John enter the long and narrow room through the right hand entrance, Sherlock striding energetically ahead, John following with much less enthusiasm. Along the wall, immediately to the side of the door they’ve just walked through, a low padded bench is set up for visitors to take a rest on. John spots it, and immediately swerves aside to slump down on it. This is clearly not the first room of the museum they're exploring. Sherlock, oblivious to John's exhaustion, has taken a few steps into the room and now turns on his heel in a full 360 degrees pirouette, his eyes on the vaulted ceiling. John glances up shortly, but apparently fails to see anything fascinating there.
JOHN (wearily): Sherlock, please. We’ve been through here twice already -
SHERLOCK (holding up his hand, sharply): Sssh! (He cocks his head to one side, listening intently for a moment.) There it is again.
JOHN: What is?
SHERLOCK: That hiccup in the ventilation. (His eyes focus on a ventilation grid high in the wall above the door.) It was the same down in the Reptiles gallery, directly below us. It didn’t sound like that anywhere else. What if -
JOHN (in a feeble attempt at joking): - someone’s sending poisonous snakes through the ventilation shafts to bite the visitors, or something? Well, you’ve been dancing through this place like a madman since eleven in the morning, I’d say it’s about time the snakes appreciated the show and turned up to applaud.
SHERLOCK (dead serious): But don’t you see the problem?
JOHN (with a sigh): Well, yes. No hands to applaud with, I suppose.
Sherlock rolls his eyes.
SHERLOCK: The problem is, John, that I’ve been able to dance through here like a madman, as you call it, for hours on end, without anyone wondering what I was doing! I’ve been in every single room at least twice now, except perhaps in the Ladies’. I’ve examined all the cases and all the technical implements in every gallery. In short, I’ve been openly snooping around the place for half a day, but no one’s bothered to ask me what I was doing, let alone to stop me! (He points at a small surveillance camera set up in the corner of the room.) These look solid enough, but that doesn’t help if nobody’s looking at the footage. This place may have millions of visitors every year, but their security is abysmal. Anyone could walk in here and spend hours reconnoitring for an elaborate way of causing a lot of people a lot of harm, and nobody would even notice!
JOHN (straightening up with an effort): Right, can you be a bit more specific, please? What exactly is it you’re suspecting?
SHERLOCK (curtly): I don’t know. (He abruptly walks over and sits down heavily on the bench next to John, suddenly looking rather despondent himself.) Death and nature re-arising. Something dead coming back to life. One of the eighty million specimens in here? But which one?
JOHN: But that's absurd. As you said, they are all dead. They can't literally come back to life.
SHERLOCK: No, but so far Count Walsegg's been very careful to recreate the images of the Dies Irae as accurately as possible.
John turns his head towards his friend and regards him for a moment with his brows drawn together. Sherlock, looking straight ahead at a skeleton of a dodo in its glass case, doesn't react.
JOHN (tentatively): It's official, then?
SHERLOCK (distractedly): What is?
JOHN: That Count Walsegg really exists?
SHERLOCK (turning sharply to face John): Of course he exists, John. He paid us a visit! Unless you want to argue that 221 Baker Street is haunted by ghosts, of course he's real. The question is, why? Why are they doing all this, and why do they want me to know they're doing it?
JOHN: “They” as in plural? Is that official now, too?
SHERLOCK: Certainly. None of these crimes could have been pulled off by a single person. There may be one single directing intelligence behind it, but they've clearly got enough willing -
JOHN: - family members?
SHERLOCK: What? (With a frown) What do you mean?
JOHN (with a hint of impatience): Sherlock, I may be slow, but I'm not as slow as all that. The Tosca family, of course. Your dead cardinal, and Talbot's plaintiffs. Did you really think I wouldn't notice it’s the same name? I read up on them last night. A vast Piedmontese clan, a very old family of industrial magnates, suppliers to the car industry, both Italian and international. Excellent connections to the Catholic Church, too – they make a point of honour of providing at least an archbishop every generation.
SHERLOCK (with a wry smile): You've been thorough.
JOHN (a little bitterly): I told you I'd quit working on this case with you if you keep concealing stuff from me just for the fun of it.
Sherlock slowly shakes his head.
SHERLOCK: Not for fun, John. I just –
JOHN (firmly): You know them, and they know you. You've worked for them before. Who else would cover their face with a mask, if not someone you'd recognise straight away?
SHERLOCK (testily): I worked for them, yes, but that was years ago. I solved their case, and then we went our separate ways again. That's how it goes, John, you know that. (Under his breath) Not my fault they didn't like the solution.
JOHN: Which was, incidentally?
SHERLOCK (with a careless wave of his hand): That Cardinal Tosca died of the unfortunate effect of combining the nitrates he took for his heart condition with Cialis. His valet, who by the way was to be the recipient of the cardinal's efforts in that field, lost his nerve and ran for it, thinking that he'd be suspected of having killed his employer. He only grabbed the cameos to cover his expenses while on the run.
JOHN (pulling a face): Ugly.
SHERLOCK: Yes, ugly, but successfully hushed up, of course. So no open scores on that account. It's not like I sold that story to the tabloids afterwards, although I admit I was tempted, to reimburse myself for the still unpaid fee. So if anything, they owe me, not the other way round.
JOHN: That's maybe how you see it.
SHERLOCK (frustrated): I don't see anything yet. Not even a glimpse.
He shakes his head again as if to clear it, looking genuinely lost. In the ensuing silence, he turns away from John to contemplate the dodo skeleton again. It seems to be grinning at him. Sherlock grins back at it, showing his teeth in a silent snarl.
JOHN (in an encouraging tone): Well, we've got lots of other leads still to follow up, too. The builders, Cunningham's last days, and Anderson's alibi, too, by the way.
SHERLOCK (with a crooked smile): Yeah, sure. So what are we hanging around in a museum for?
JOHN: Oh right, yeah. Still got another murder to prevent, too. (A pause.) You didn't go into the Ladies', did you? (Sherlock meets his friend's eyes in eloquent silence. John lets out a short bark of laughter.) Right, I suppose I don't want to know. So, what now? Shall we just go and talk to the director, and tell him to tighten his security and watch out for anything out of the way?
SHERLOCK (unconvinced): Maybe.
John puts his hands on his knees and rises to his feet. Sherlock follows suit.
JOHN: So, do you know where his office is?
SHERLOCK: Her office, John. Let’s get back to the Main Hall and ask if she's in.
INT. - Natural History Museum - Main Hall - DAY
A moment later, Sherlock and John step out of the Cadogan Gallery and onto the magnificent double staircase leading from the upper galleries down into the main hall of the museum. The vast expanse of the cathedral-like vaulted nave opens before them, teeming with visitors - tourists, families, groups of schoolchildren - and filled with their merry chatter. It is a stark contrast to the quiet privacy of the Cadogan Gallery, and Sherlock and John come to a halt on the topmost step to survey the busy scene.
In the forward part of the hall, a lively group of primary school children have set up camp on the flagstone floor, right under the long outstretched neck of the huge plaster-cast replica of the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton known as “Dippy” that dominates the entire hall. A resolute-looking young teacher with short blonde hair is trying to get her charges organised, with mixed success. Some of the pupils are already sitting in a semi-circle around her, their workbooks and pens out, but some overexcited others are running all around the glass case encircling Dippy’s giant clawed feet, playing tag, while a little bunch of boys are having fun trying to hit Dippy’s massive head with paper planes. The teacher can be seen to call to them to stop. One of the museum’s attendants is already on his way across the floor of the hall to help calm things down, too.
John, from the distance, looks on with a slightly wistful smile on his face, maybe lost in memories of his own schooldays. Sherlock's eyes are on the scene, too, but they're focused on the dinosaur's head rather than on the children. Just then, one of the paper planes hits the dinosaur's first vertebra, the one immediately adjoining the skull. A little cloud of very fine, powdery dust rises from the impact and dances in one of the bright spotlights trained on the dinosaur for a moment, then dissolves again. Sherlock's eyes narrow, and his whole body tenses in sudden apprehension.
SHERLOCK (tersely): They need to stop doing that.
JOHN (genially): Come on, don't be a -
But Sherlock is already past him and off down the stairs at a run. John follows automatically. They're half-way down the stairs, Sherlock so fast that he’s jostling the other visitors, when one of the schoolboys, who sports unruly dreadlocks and an even more unruly grin, snatches a paper plane out of a friend’s hand, crumples it up into a tight ball and lobs it at the dinosaur's head with all the force he can muster. The boy lets out a triumphant whoop as the paper ball hits the skull squarely on the side, and loud appreciative laughter rises from the little knot of his friends around him. And then the scene freezes into horrified stillness. Slowly, ever so slowly, Dippy the dinosaur's head begins to move. It tilts a little sideways, releasing a small cascade of chalky dust, and then, inch by inch, it starts slanting downwards, towards the school boys, as if for a better look at the little disturbers of its peace. The boys stand like statues, their grins frozen on their faces, eyes wide in disbelief. On the stairs at the far end of the hall, John grabs Sherlock's arm in alarm.
JOHN: Look, it's -
SHERLOCK: - coming back to life, I know! (Raising his voice to a bellow of warning) Get out of the way there!
But too late. A loud crack echoes like a thunderclap around the high vaulted ceiling, and Dippy's skull abruptly parts from its neck. It comes crashing down onto the flagstone floor like a bombshell, mere feet away from the schoolboys, and shatters into a thousand pieces. A big cloud of white dust rises into the air, and sharp, jagged fragments of plaster fly for yards in every direction. Terrified screams fill the air, and through the haze of dust, some of the small figures can be seen going down and cowering on the floor with their arms over their heads. And Dippy is not done yet. The dislocation of the heavy skull seems to have affected the stability of its entire long neck, and now the cervical vertebrae are beginning to list precariously sideways, too. Suddenly, everyone is on the move. Both children and adults scramble to get out of the way, coughing and crying and shouting for help, while museum attendants from the nearby reception desk and museum shop are rushing towards the site of the disaster to help. Where the tides meet, utter chaos reigns. People are colliding with each other and knocking each other down in their blind panic, making it difficult to get themselves to a safe distance from the threat still towering above their heads.
Sherlock and John, who are among the few who are hurrying towards, not away, are crossing the hall from the staircase, John in the lead now. He's heading straight for the children on the ground near the broken skull, Sherlock close behind him. But they're still ten yards away when another sharp crack like a gunshot rises above the clamour that fills the hall. John skitters to a halt, looking wildly up at the damaged skeleton, and then throws out his arm and shouts a wordless warning. Sherlock, too close to him to come to a halt in time, bumps into him, and holding onto each other to keep themselves upright, they both look up to see the four or five foremost vertebrae of Dippy's neck snap, too, and come down like dominoes, one by one, leaving a trail of dust and debris behind them as they, too, burst apart on the flagstone floor, the last one burying one of the small figures that were crouched on the ground beneath it.
John is by the boy’s side even before the dust has fully settled. He drops to his knees and carefully brushes broken pieces of plaster off the boy’s head, revealing a small young face, dark under its white powdering, speckled with blood here and there, and very still. The boy is lying on his front, his dreadlocks spread out around his head, his torso pinned to the ground by the ruin of a dinosaur vertebra. He neither moves nor speaks . John leans over him to check whether he's still breathing, when a shadow falls over them both, blocking the light. John looks up in annoyance. The schoolteacher is hovering above him, barely recognisable with her own hair and face covered in white dust, her eyes wide and her lips trembling.
SCHOOLTEACHER (in a thick voice, close to tears): He’s not - is he - ?
JOHN (with another glance at the boy, curtly): He’s breathing, but - (He stops himself.) Look after the other kids, I’ll handle him. I’m a doctor.
MALE VOICE (off-screen): Anything I can do, sir?
John looks past the teacher at the man standing at her shoulder. In a split second, he takes in the man’s museum attendant’s uniform, short iron-grey hair, clipped moustache, and the complete absence of any signs of panic or confusion in the man's expression. He allows himself another split second for an appreciative half-smile. Then he starts firing off orders as quickly as Sherlock usually fires off deductions.
JOHN: Got a possible spinal cord injury here. I’ll need an ambulance for that, and some more to stand by. Call the police, and lock the place down. Let nobody out until the coppers say so. Make a call for any doctors or other medical pros in the building. Then a full casualty report to me, please.
The museum attendant straightens up and all but clicks his heels.
MUSEUM ATTENDANT: Very well, sir. Ambulance for spinal cord injury, police, lock down, all medical personnel to Main Hall and casualty report it is.
John dismisses him with a nod. While the museum attendant marches off purposefully, John turns his attention back to the injured boy. Very careful not to disturb the alignment of the body, he tries to inch his hands under the huge lump of plaster to lift it off the boy’s back. But it’s too large for two hands only, and is threatening to come apart and do yet more damage if unbalanced any further. John grimaces as the fragments begin to slide out of his hands, and looks around frantically for help. But all around him, there seem to be only crying children, covered in plaster dust, and horrified adults, most of them uselessly wringing their hands.
JOHN (calling loudly): Sherlock? Sherlock!
Over his left shoulder, John finally catches sight of his friend. Sherlock is a few yards away from him, also on his knees on the debris-strewn floor, but his attention is fixed on the ruin of Dippy’s skull, apparently oblivious to the misery all around him. With hands flying all over the broken pieces, Sherlock seems to be in a feverish search for something among the remains of the dinosaur’s head.
JOHN (raising his voice to a bellow): Sherlock!!! I need a hand, now, or -
At this moment, a loudspeaker announcement comes on, drowning the rest of John’s words, but it was enough. While the voice of the museum attendant calmly requests that all visitors avoid the Main Hall and assemble by the side entrance on Exhibition Road, Sherlock looks up and catches John’s eye. Seeing the urgency in his friend's expression, he abandons his own task and comes crawling across to him through the wreckage. By the time the museum attendant has added his request for any trained medical personnel on site to report themselves in the Main Hall, John and Sherlock together have already lifted the weight off the unconscious boy’s back, very careful to keep the prone body in exactly its current position.
SHERLOCK (in a low voice): Looking bad?
John merely shrugs. From outside, the first sirens can already be heard approaching.
EXT. - Cromwell Road, outside the Natural History Museum – DAY
The gates in the wrought-iron screen separating the museum grounds from the road have been opened to admit half a dozen ambulances and at least as many police cars, which are all parked rather haphazardly in front of the main entrance to the museum. The place is milling with police officers and ambulance crews, some of the latter already departing again with the less seriously injured of the school children.
On the broad steps leading up to the open portal under its double spires, well away from the road, Sherlock is sitting with his back to the building, squinting into the late afternoon sun and sipping absent-mindedly from a water bottle that seems to have been provided by one of the museum cafés. The busy tide of the emergency services coming and going flows all around him, but Sherlock hardly seems to notice.
John is nowhere to be seen. A young man in a light grey suit and with square horn-rimmed glasses that make him look older than he probably is comes walking out of the museum and steps up to where Sherlock is sitting.
YOUNG MAN (tentatively): Erm - Mr Holmes, is it?
SHERLOCK (looking up): Yes?
YOUNG MAN: I, erm -
Since Sherlock makes no move to get up, the young man, after a short moment of hesitation, sits down next to him. Close up, his face is glistening with sweat, and he looks quite shaken.
YOUNG MAN: I - I’m in charge of the museum’s PR.
SHERLOCK (in a flat tone): Congratulations.
He takes another sip of water.
YOUNG PR MAN (flustered): No, I - I just need to know what to tell them. (He nods towards the iron gates that open onto the road, where a little cluster of reporters has already gathered on the pavement, some taking pictures of the scene, some talking excitedly into their phones.) The police officer in charge told me to ask you. He says you saw it happen. (Awkwardly) You're the Mr Holmes, aren't you? The detective from the blog, I mean?
SHERLOCK (with a crooked smile): For the purpose of this conversation, close enough.
YOUNG PR MAN: So, er – what exactly happened?
SHERLOCK: A dinosaur lost its head. And then everyone else followed its example. (He jerks his head at the reporters.) Tell them your director will get that blue whale skeleton in there now much quicker than she thought. That’s all they’ll want to know, isn’t it?
YOUNG PR MAN (grimacing): Yeah, I know. (He sighs.) Everyone loved Dippy. There was such an outcry when Kasia - Doctor Stepansky, I mean - first announced the plan to replace him with the blue whale. You've heard of that, I suppose? And now this. Quite apart from the whale idea, we’ve been debating for years now whether Dippy was still safe. He’s over a hundred years old. Plaster isn’t imperishable. He required a lot of maintenance, even without moving him around all the time to make room for functions and that sort of thing.
SHERLOCK (perking up his ears): Has he been moved recently?
YOUNG PR MAN: There was a function in here on Sunday night, and we had him moved back to his usual position before we opened yesterday morning.
SHERLOCK (sharply): By whom?
YOUNG PR MAN (with a shrug): I don’t know. Some workmen with a small crane. I wasn’t there.
SHERLOCK: Was Doctor Stepansky?
YOUNG PR MAN: No, she’d already left for Paris. (Sherlock frowns.) She’s at a museology conference at the Louvre. That is, she’s probably already heading back to the airport now. (He nervously runs his hand through his hair.) God, what this will mean for her... (He gets to his feet, looking across warily at the waiting reporters.) Well, I suppose there’s no help for it. Got any advice for me, then?
SHERLOCK (looking him up and down with a curl of his lip): On the wisdom of appearing on national television with an unsavoury array of sweat patches on one's shirt, or on the wisdom of trying to advance one's career by sleeping with one's boss?
The young man gapes at him, then blinks several times, and finally flushes dark red. He turns on the spot and almost flees from Sherlock's presence, down the stairs towards the journalists, fastidiously closing all three buttons on his suit jacket as he goes. Sherlock looks after him with an expression of totally impersonal condescension on his face.
A moment later, John materialises at his friend's side, and very inelegantly drops down next to him in the spot that the young PR man has just vacated. He has taken off his jacket, and his rolled-up sleeves reveal that both his forearms are covered up to his elbows in plaster dust and spatters of blood. Some specks of both have even got into his hair, where he's wiped it off his face. His face is tense and looks more deeply lined than usual. He just sits there for a moment staring into empty space. Sherlock shoots him a quick sideways glance, his facial expression outwardly unmoved, but covertly taking in every detail of his friend’s exhausted countenance. An ambulance crew bearing a patient on a stretcher passes them. The patient is covered up to the neck and securely strapped down, but by the messy dreadlocks peeking out, his identity is all too clear. John watches the paramedics carefully descend the steps and load the boy into the last of the ambulances still waiting.
JOHN (his eyes on the ambulance, after a moment): He’s - (He breaks off, shaken by a sudden coughing fit.) Ah, damn that dust.
Sherlock wordlessly hands him his half-empty water bottle. John drains it in a few long gulps.
JOHN (nodding at the ambulance, the doors of which are just being closed): The others got away with mostly just cuts and bruises, but that one’s -
He’s interrupted again, this time by the ping of a text message from his own phone. He fishes it out of the back pocket of his jeans and glances at the screen.
SHERLOCK: If it’s Lestrade, tell him to let everyone go home. Count Walsegg was already gone again long before we came here.
JOHN (shaking his head, his eyes still on his phone): It’s Mary. She says she got three gorgeous delphiniums for the front garden from the plant sale at Kew.
He looks up to meet Sherlock's eyes then. He clearly doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Natural History Museum picture by David Iliff
INT. – 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room - DAY
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
The sitting room, in the early morning of the next day. Sherlock stands at the desk-cum-dining table between the windows. He's already – or still – dressed in one of his dark suits, and is busy attacking a newspaper with a pair of scissors. Next to him on the table sits a tray with tea and biscuits, as yet untouched. His task completed, Sherlock straightens up and turns towards the Wall above the sofa, a small cut-out from the paper in his hand. It's a grainy, black-and-white photo of a young boy with dreadlocks. He pins it on the Wall.
It is the newest piece in a growing collection of photos, post-it notes, newspaper cut-outs and other scraps of paper arranged there, including pictures of the Hedlunds, Commander Cunningham, Judge Talbot, the tickets from the concert, and the programme with verses 1-3 of the Dies Irae sequence checked off. Sherlock grabs a pen from the coffee table and stands on the sofa to check off Verse Four, then tosses the pen carelessly on the floor. He steeples his fingers beneath his chin and looks intently at the photos of the victims as he steps backwards onto the floor. As he looks at each photo, a copy of it appears to lift off the Wall of Evidence and place itself in a line with the others, while white letters float in the air above their faces.
David & Sibylla Hedlund
52 / 46
Football coach / Ex-model
Raymond Cunningham, Cmdr
Police Cmdr, retired / International consultant
The Hon. Justice (Geoffrey) Talbot
Judge (High Court)
Sherlock moves his hands from his chin to shift the photo of the child. He hovers with it above the line of photos for a moment before moving it next to the Hedlunds, the nationality over both photos changing to “foreign national(s).” The other words under the child’s face become bold and begin to increase in size, while the sound of several people’s footsteps marching on gravel, one of them slightly off-beat, can be heard as if in the distance. As the sound starts to grow louder, the multiple footsteps are replaced by one clomping up the stairs.
JOHN (off-screen, outside the door): Sherlock?
Sherlock turns his head towards the door, and all the images and words tumble toward the floor and disappear. John pushes open the door and enters, leaving it open behind him.
JOHN: Ah, you are here.
SHERLOCK: I thought you had work today.
JOHN: I do, but I thought I’d check in first. Any news?
Sherlock points to the newspaper on the desk. The front page – minus the cut-out – sports a large image of the rubble of Dippy the Diplodocus.
SHERLOCK: Nothing we didn’t witness first-hand.
JOHN (nodding at the picture of the boy on the Wall): What about him?
SHERLOCK: Joshua Allen. I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense.
JOHN: Attacking a school kid? I’d say not.
SHERLOCK: Nature came back to life. It was Verse Four to a tee, but the victim doesn’t match the pattern.
JOHN: Well, is there a pattern, apart from the Dies Irae references? Arson, falling scaffolding, suicide, collapsing dinosaur – for a serial killer, he doesn’t seem to have a very consistent MO, so why start now?
SHERLOCK: But there you’re wrong, John. The sauna, the scaffold, the suicide, our friend Dippy. All done at a distance, all made to look like accidents. He never openly confronts his victims, never looks them in the eye. He strikes like a lightning bolt, out of nowhere, and disappears again, unseen and unknown. That argues that this is not about a personal grudge, not about settling an individual score. It's got something strangely impersonal about it.
JOHN: Maybe he's a bit squeamish. Or are you saying that this is a madman who just kills and maims whoever fits into the next Dies Irae verse?
SHERLOCK: Maybe he kills and maims them not for what they've done, but for who they are. (He turns and points at the pictures of the previous victims.) They were all public figures of some sort. Practically celebrities, at least in their respective fields. All of them successful, all of them well-respected. Well-off, too. But the boy? He's a nobody. He's the odd man out.
JOHN: Then maybe this one is not the Dies Irae at all. People have been up in arms about the plan to remove that dinosaur for weeks now. Maybe it was one of the “Save Dippy” crowd, trying to make a point?
SHERLOCK (raising a sceptical eyebrow at his friend): By destroying Dippy in order to save him?
JOHN (defensively): Alright. Then it was someone who did want him replaced by the blue whale.
SHERLOCK (with a short, humourless laugh): The non-existent “Team Whale”? The only person in London who thought that was a good idea was the museum’s director herself, John. And she’d hardly want to bring more bad publicity on herself, would she? (Sherlock’s eyes dart back up to the Wall, and he taps the concert programme with a knuckle.) No, it’s Verse Four, I’m certain of that now.
JOHN (trying but failing to suppress a little smile): So you’re saying we were right about the Dies Irae? Me, and Mary, and Molly, and Mrs Hudson, everyone?
Sherlock doesn't reply, but studiously avoids John's eyes.
JOHN: You're saying that we were right all the time.
SHERLOCK (his eyes still on the Wall of Evidence, reluctantly): I'm saying that your hypothesis is beginning to show some merit.
JOHN: Just admit that we called this one before you.
Sherlock glances at John, then turns away with a distinct pout forming on his face. But then his eyes flicker over his friend's shoulder, across to the open door. In it stands Greg Lestrade, his hand just raised to knock on the door jamb. Sherlock immediately moves past John and ushers Lestrade in with glaringly exaggerated friendliness.
SHERLOCK: Lestrade! You’ve made it! Fantastic.
Lestrade raises his eyebrows at John, as if to ask for an explanation for this unexpectedly polite welcome. But John's smile is already gone from his face.
JOHN (to Lestrade, in a tone of concern): How's the boy?
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade, simultaneously): What did you find?
Lestrade looks from one to the other, then ostentatiously turns to John to answer him first.
LESTRADE: He’ll make it, John. When he came out of emergency surgery last night, the hospital told me that it could have been worse if it hadn't been for you taking care of him. (Ruefully) But even so, they don’t know that he’ll ever walk again.
John turns away, shaking his head sadly. Lestrade grimaces sympathetically, then digs into the inner pocket of his coat and takes out his notebook. From between its pages, he extracts a glossy portrait shot of young Joshua Allen in his school uniform, in the same format as all the other victim photographs on the Wall, and hands it to Sherlock. Sherlock takes it, and studies it for a moment.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock): As for demographics, the family came over from Jamaica only last year. Mum’s a till girl, dad drives a lorry. Oldest of four. Upton Park Primary School, Newham. Not exactly London's most privileged neighbourhood. No good at school, except at PE. He's a stellar centre forward for his age, I'm told. (Bitterly) Or was.
SHERLOCK: That confirms it. He doesn't matter.
He turns towards the desk and drops the photo straight into the waste paper basket standing by it. When he sees both John and Lestrade staring at him in dismay, he huffs an impatient breath.
SHERLOCK: He doesn't matter to the investigation. Better?
LESTRADE (drily): Slightly. What makes you so sure, by the way?
SHERLOCK: You tell me what your techs found when they went over that skeleton.
LESTRADE (with a sigh): That you were right, of course. There were no signs of a control mechanism, no explosives, nothing that could have triggered the collapse at that exact moment.
JOHN (in an incredulous tone): It wasn’t tampered with? Then it was just an accident after all?
LESTRADE: Not exactly. The metal rod connecting the head with the first vertebra had been sawed through, nearly completely. (John whistles.) There was only a fraction of an inch left standing, to hold up all that weight. It could have come down at any moment. The paper ball the boy threw at it was all it needed to push it over the edge.
JOHN: So it could have hit anyone?
SHERLOCK: As I said. The boy was a completely random victim.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, heavily): But you know what that means.
SHERLOCK: Count Walsegg has changed his MO.
LESTRADE: Yes. From individual murder to terrorism.
SHERLOCK: So what? I've dealt with terrorists before.
LESTRADE: Yeah, but I don't. Not my division. Are we looking at an act of random violence against the general public this time? Because if you can't tell me who exactly Count Walsegg was going for this time, if it wasn’t the boy, I'll be out of this by tomorrow. (Pointedly) And you know whose goodwill you'll depend on then, if you want to stay involved in the investigation.
Sherlock pulls a face as if he's bitten into a rotten lemon.
JOHN (under his breath): God forbid. (To Lestrade) But that's pretty clear, isn't it? Who was really meant to be hit, I mean?
LESTRADE: What do you mean?
JOHN: The note, of course.
LESTRADE (puzzled): What note?
JOHN (frowning in his turn): The code written in musical notes, that Sherlock got yesterday morning.
JOHN (now equally bewildered): I put it up on the blog. Didn't you -
LESTRADE (reproachfully): I've been busy, I don't check your blog hourly, John! What did it say?
SHERLOCK: “Danger in the Natural History Museum.”
He plucks the paper with the code off the Wall and hands it to Lestrade.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, aghast): He told you there was something going to happen at the Natural History Museum?
SHERLOCK: Obviously, yes.
LESTRADE (angrily): Didn't I tell you to call me if anything strange happened? Were you trying to get yourself killed?
JOHN (drily): That’s what I asked him, too.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, not mollified in the least): How do you know that dinosaur's head wasn’t meant to fall on you?
SHERLOCK (evenly): You said it yourself, there was no trigger. The killer had no way of knowing when exactly Dippy would collapse, and who would be under it then.
LESTRADE: Yeah, unless he sent someone a note that basically asked him to stand under it!
SHERLOCK (defensively): I wasn't standing under it, I was at least thirty yards away!
LESTRADE (sarcastically): Well, that's a great comfort! (He gives Sherlock one last, very disapproving look, then takes a deep breath, deliberately calming himself down. He glances over the musical code in his hand.) What’s Mozart’s K.622 clarinet concerto? That’s not part of the Requiem, is it?
JOHN: No. But the music isn't the clarinet concerto anyway.
LESTRADE (confused): Then why put it on the page?
SHERLOCK: It was a clue that the notes were not what they seemed.
LESTRADE: But he could have chosen any song for that, yeah? Why that one?
John cocks his head to one side as if remembering something, and then walks over to look closely at the concert programme on the Wall.
SHERLOCK: Personal favourite?
JOHN (turning back towards the others): The Requiem was K.626. That means the clarinet concerto was another one of the last pieces Mozart ever worked on, right?
SHERLOCK (loftily): Yes, John, that is how a chronological catalogue works.
LESTRADE: So this is another thing that Mozart wrote just before he died? Aren't you at least a tiny bit concerned why you're getting all those hints about impending death thrown at you, Sherlock?
SHERLOCK: No. I’m far more concerned about Count Walsegg's disregard for the rules of proper English grammar.
LESTRADE (frowning in irritation again): Oh, bad grammar's not a crime! You'd be more use if you helped us stop whatever's coming next in the Dies Irae. Or do you still need convincing that that's where he gets his inspiration?
JOHN (quietly): Verse Five, then. “The written book will be brought forth, in which all is contained, from which the world shall be judged.”
LESTRADE: Something to do with a book, right? (He shakes his head.) That could be anything.
SHERLOCK: I can’t help thinking that we’re not done with our friend Judge Talbot just yet.
JOHN: Why’s that? (Jokingly) Because judges like throwing the book at people?
SHERLOCK (not even deigning to smile): No, but look at the poem. A judge is specifically mentioned in verses two, four, five, six and eleven, and the whole theme of the hymn is the plight of the poor sinner at the Last Judgment. The Dies Irae's got “judge,” quite literally, written all over it.
JOHN: So that's why you were so interested in finding out about his last case, is it?
LESTRADE: So what am I supposed to do? Put a security detail on Talbot? I can hardly do that based on a mere theory, especially not after Cunningham’s funeral. And not against Talbot's will, either.
SHERLOCK: No, I'm going to look into Talbot. You can get a move on, and finally find us those workmen from the Hedlunds'. (Disapprovingly) It's been a week, Lestrade!
LESTRADE (testily): Well, guess what I was doing yesterday when I got distracted by a giant collapsing dinosaur! (He and Sherlock glare at each other in silence for a moment. Then Lestrade clears his throat.) We have found the van from the Hedlunds' on CCTV. Had the company name all over it.
SHERLOCK (impatiently): Well?
LESTRADE: Linklaters, Building and Renovation Services, Beddington Industrial Estate, Sutton.
SHERLOCK: And they were of course seen around the Royal Courts of Justice on the day of Talbot's accident, too?
LESTRADE: Only trouble is, there is no such company registered in Sutton, or anywhere else in London.
JOHN: But what about the van? Who's that registered to?
LESTRADE (gloomily): To a car owner from Lewisham, who reported her number plates stolen over a month ago.
SHERLOCK: And of course the same phantom company was remodelling Commander Cunningham's bathroom as well?
JOHN: And moving Dippy around at the museum?
LESTRADE: Dippy, yes. Someone from the museum staff remembered the van. But Cunningham, no.
JOHN: But how do they do it? I mean, they can't have been hired by the Hedlunds, by the court and by the museum all by coincidence?
LESTRADE: They weren't hired. They just dress the part, and then walk on the scene as if they belong there. They hide in plain sight, so to speak. By the time people start wondering and asking questions, it's too late.
Sherlock chuckles appreciatively. John and Lestrade turn to look at him with identical, rather disquieted frowns.
SHERLOCK (innocently): Oh, it's brilliant. Rarely takes more than the right clothes, above-average confidence, and a bit of ad-libbing, but so effective when done well. Ah, people are endlessly gullible when they see no reason to be suspicious.
LESTRADE (in a disapproving tone): Well, you'd know. But at least playing builders is over now. If that van shows up on any main road in London again, we'll have them. But as for Cunningham – there's no link there. No workers have been on his property since last August. As for his last days, we haven’t been able to find any evidence that he was under pressure, or being threatened. If he was, he hid it extremely well.
JOHN: Another dead end, then.
LESTRADE (with a grimace): Quite literally, yes. (He straightens up and squares his shoulders.) Right, gotta go. (He sighs.) We've got a press conference scheduled for noon.
SHERLOCK (with a wry smile): Well, don't let me keep you from your favourite pastime.
LESTRADE (not amused): Well, you behave now, and stay put. (With a somewhat reproachful glance at John) I don't want to have to check John's blog all day just to make sure you're not running headlong into some trap to do with a book, now.
Sherlock puffs out a loud, contemptuous breath.
LESTRADE (sternly): I mean it. (He points a commanding finger at Sherlock.) Next time I catch you running off to hunt down Count Walsegg without backup, it'll be protective custody.
SHERLOCK (crossing his arms, stubbornly): John was there.
LESTRADE: Police backup. That's not John’s job.
JOHN: Job. Right. (Looking at his watch) I’m gonna be late, too.
LESTRADE (about to take his leave): So, see you all - Oh, hell. I forgot. I’ve got Anderson downstairs, Sherlock. He's waiting to talk to you.
LESTRADE: Mrs Hudson said she’d make him a cuppa.
SHERLOCK: Mrs Hudson's making tea for Anderson now?
LESTRADE: Yeah, she said she'd -
SHERLOCK: I’ve really got to talk to her about that bad habit of hers.
In a few long strides, Sherlock is out of the door, and can be heard racing down the stairs at top speed. John and Lestrade exchange a surprised look at this sudden departure.
LESTRADE (in a feeble attempt at joking): He's not expecting to find Mrs Hudson bludgeoned to death with her family Bible now, is he?
John tries to smile, but his heart definitely isn’t in it.
INT. - 221A Baker Street – Mrs Hudson's Flat - DAY
In an unlit passage in Mrs Hudson's flat that leads to her kitchen, Sherlock can be seen in silhouette, moving towards the half-open kitchen door. He treads slowly and very quietly, careful not to attract attention. In the kitchen, the lights are on, and the voices of Mrs Hudson and Philip Anderson come floating towards Sherlock, Anderson's intense and urgent, Mrs Hudson's rather sceptical.
ANDERSON: …not like he hasn't made enemies before, and powerful enemies, too, but this time I'm worried that he's truly in over his head. A worldwide organisation, with thousands of loyal foot soldiers, virtually unlimited funds, and a history of two thousand years of crime in the name of a higher cause – do you really think they'll let one man stand in their way, even if it's Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock has cautiously made his way to the kitchen door by then. A peek into the room shows him Philip Anderson seated at Mrs Hudson's little kitchen table by the far wall, with his back to the door. Mrs Hudson is on a stool at right angles to him, leaning back from the table with her arms crossed rather defensively. On the table lies a large, ancient-looking leather-bound tome with a gilt edge – Mrs Hudson's family Bible indeed.
MRS HUDSON: But if it's true that they're after Sherlock, why attack all those other people?
ANDERSON: They're warnings. They're all just warnings. Take the Dies Irae, now. The pattern is perfectly obvious.
He rummages his the inner pocket of his jacket, takes out a rather dog-eared folded piece of paper, unfolds it and flattens it on the table.
ANDERSON: For the first twelve verses, there will be a total of twelve crimes against other victims. Twelve, the number of completeness and perfection, in Biblical imagery. But the thirteenth verse - notoriously unlucky number - refers to Sherlock himself.
Mrs Hudson frowns, but reaches behind her to pick up her reading glasses from the kitchen counter. With the glasses on, she looks over the printout of the Dies Irae sequence.
MRS HUDSON (reading aloud): “Thou who absolvedst Mary, and heardest the robber, gavest hope to me, too.” That's Sherlock?
ANDERSON: Of course! He's had robbers as clients, like that man who now runs the Italian restaurant. He's given hope to hundreds of desperate people seeking advice. And – (He breaks off, clears his throat, and continues in a lower voice.) - and hasn't he surprised us all by forgiving Mary Morstan for – erm... you know... ?
Mrs Hudson removes her reading glasses again, looking scandalised.
MRS HUDSON: I don't see how that's any of your business, Mr Anderson!
ANDERSON: I’m not trying to pry, I’m trying to save Sherlock’s life! (Urgently) Someone’s going to kill him, I’m certain of it. The proof is all right there!
He jabs his finger at the paper in Mrs Hudson’s hands. Mrs Hudson opens her mouth as if to disagree, but nothing comes out. She clutches her hand towards her chest in distress, crushing the printout in the process.
SHERLOCK’S VOICE (from the direction of the kitchen door): I'm offended that you're only giving me until Verse Thirteen, Anderson, when Mozart himself was allowed to get right to the final verse before he died, eight bars into the Lacrimosa.
Anderson, who has swivelled round at the sound of Sherlock's voice behind his back, blushes crimson.
ANDERSON (stammering with embarrassment): I – I didn't mean -
SHERLOCK (still in a tone of mock disappointment): And I was so looking forward to Verse Fifteen, too. Don't tell me I'll miss it. (He steps up to the kitchen table and gently takes the Dies Irae printout out of Mrs Hudson's hand.) Sheep and goats. What would Count Walsegg make of that one, do you think?
MRS HUDSON (clearly relieved at Sherlock’s appearance, to Anderson): Well, there's a lovely restaurant called “The Grazing Goat” on New Quebec Street, not far from here. What about we all go there to celebrate when Sherlock's solved the case?
Without waiting for an answer, she rises from her seat and, with a still rather harried look at Sherlock, makes for the open door and disappears through it. Sherlock looks after her for a moment. When he turns back to Anderson, his face is stony, every trace of levity wiped from it. Anderson gulps.
ANDERSON: I really didn't mean – I, I'm worried, too! (Rushing on before Sherlock can interrupt him) I – I think John Watson should stop writing his blog.
SHERLOCK (taken aback): What?
Anderson opens Mrs Hudson's Bible and starts hastily turning pages, glad to have a reason to avoid Sherlock's eyes.
ANDERSON: Verse Five. The written book in which all is contained. It's in the Book of Revelation. It's the sealed book that the angels bring forth at the Last Judgement, in a glorious vision of -
SHERLOCK (with barely contained anger): Anderson, if you're here to discuss the confused ramblings of an ancient Greek idiot who tried to pass off a bad trip as divine inspiration, you've come to the wrong shop. The only thing I want to hear from you is -
ANDERSON (with almost desperate urgency): But that's it! Who wrote the Book of Revelation? A John! His name was John, too! And he recorded everything he witnessed, just like your John records all your adventures on his blog. What if the blog is the written book of Verse Five in which – in which –
He falters, and then falls silent, looking up at Sherlock with big eyes, like a sad old dog. Sherlock takes a deep breath, ready to explode. Then -
SHERLOCK (in a chillingly calm voice): Ash Wednesday, half past six, Anderson. Where were you?
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Hall - DAY
In the downstairs hall of 221B Baker Street, John and Greg Lestrade are coming down the stairs, on their way to the front door. They're just about to leave the house when Mrs Hudson comes hurrying out of her own flat.
MRS HUDSON (in a low voice): Oh, John, please, just quickly -
Both men halt and turn towards her. But Mrs Hudson nods goodbye to Lestrade, clearly dismissing him so she can talk to John in private. He takes his cue, and leaves.
JOHN: What is it, Mrs Hudson?
MRS HUDSON: I'm so worried, John. (She takes him by the arm.) He's – he's not himself.
JOHN (with a smile): Who, Anderson? We all noticed that, I think.
MRS HUDSON: No, I mean Sherlock. (She sighs unhappily.) It's November all over again. (She glances over her shoulder back at her flat, as if to make sure they're not being overheard.) You're not living here now, John, you don't know what it was like, after he pulled you out of that fire, and then couldn't find out who put you in there. It was awful. No sleep for days on end, barely ate, paced all night, snapped at me for the silliest reasons... and this is shaping up to be just the same. And never even a single note on the violin this time. (In an almost pleading tone) I was walking on egg-shells for a week back then, I can't stand another like that.
JOHN: You mean he's taking the Dies Irae case that much to heart? I wasn’t sure at first that he was even taking it seriously.
MRS HUDSON (desperately): Oh, I know, he's hiding it very well. But I can tell how obsessed he’s with it, and how it rankles that he isn't getting anywhere. And I'm scared, John, I'm really scared. That movie, you know – Mozart literally worked himself to death, didn't he? He knew he was going to die, and still he kept on working like a maniac, racing against time... and he failed. He collapsed just before he'd finished. Just like the villain had planned. What if someone means for the same to happen to Sherlock now?
JOHN (firmly): Mrs Hudson. (He places both hands on her upper arms in a reassuring gesture.) We'll see this through, never fear. And then it'll be alright again.
MRS HUDSON (with a little sniffle, blinking back a tear): I so hope you're right, John.
Puzzle No. 5:
Stop the Chief Superintendent from kicking Greg Lestrade out of the investigation and handing it over to the Counter Terrorism command! Who was the real intended victim of the attack at the Natural History Museum?
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Staircase – DUSK
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
John and Mary, in their coats, are walking up the stairs towards Sherlock’s flat. John is carrying a white paper bag.
JOHN: I’m not even sure he’s in. Telling him to stay put is the best way to make sure he doesn’t.
MARY (with a chuckle): Well, we can but try.
They reach the first floor landing and halt outside the sitting room door, catching their breath. Mary cocks her head to one side, listening .
MARY (sympathetically): Definitely still not playing, at any rate.
John sadly shakes his head, then pushes open the door, which was standing ajar. The room is in darkness and seems, at first sight, to be deserted.
JOHN: Sherlock? Are you in?
SHERLOCK’S VOICE (off-screen): Why “in” and not “at”?
JOHN (puzzled): What?
He steps into the room, Mary after him. Sherlock is lying stretched out on the sofa underneath the Wall of Evidence, on his back, with his head towards the door. His eyes are closed, and his hands are steepled under his chin in his default thinking position.
SHERLOCK (eyes still closed): I said, why “in” and not “at”?
JOHN: “Are you at”? That doesn’t make sense.
He walks over to place the paper bag onto the table, switches on the reading lamp, then pulls out two chairs for Mary and himself to sit on, facing the still immobile Sherlock across the cluttered coffee table.
SHERLOCK (talking to the ceiling): The coded message, John. You or I or anyone else in this country would have made it “Danger at the museum.” Count Walsegg made it “in the museum”. There has to be a meaning to that.
JOHN: Well, it sounds a bit clumsy, but it wasn’t wrong.
MARY (to Sherlock): You mean he’s a foreigner. Not a native speaker of English.
Sherlock opens one eye and turns his head just enough to fix it on Mary.
SHERLOCK (drily): Good thing at least one of you has brains. (He closes the eye and turns his head away again.) It's always the prepositions. Yes. He speaks a language that would have made that message “danger in the museum”, rather than “at”.
JOHN (with a sigh): And which one of the hundreds of languages spoken on this planet is it?
SHERLOCK: Well, what do you think? How would you say it in Pashto?
JOHN (with a short bark of laughter): No idea. I can say exactly three sentences in Pashto, and none of them has anything to do with a museum. Didn’t exactly get a lot of time for sightseeing in Afghanistan, you know.
MARY: From the little I remember from our last holiday, it could work in Spanish. They’d say “en el museo”, right? (She takes out her phone, pulls up a website and starts typing rapidly.) French, no. (More typing.) Italian, no. (More typing.) German, yes. According to Google Translate, anyway. (She lets her phone sink down again. To Sherlock) Are you saying that on top of the Swedes and the Jamaicans, there’s a German connection there somewhere?
SHERLOCK (sitting up, to John ): What are the three lines in Pashto that you know?
JOHN (rather bitterly): Number one, “I’m a doctor.” Number two, “Help me stop the bleeding.” Number three, “I’m sorry I couldn’t save your husband/brother/son.” Standard handbook for British army doctors deployed abroad.
Silence. Then Mary gives Sherlock a rather reproachful look, takes John’s hand and gives it a sympathetic little squeeze. John returns the motion rather absent-mindedly. Sherlock, whose expression has remained unreadable, startles them both by jumping up from the sofa with a sudden surge of energy, like a Jack-in-the-box. He passes between their chairs and heads straight for the back of the sitting room door, where his coat hangs on a hook.
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder): Well, go home, then. (He waves a hand dismissively.) Watch telly, or do whatever else couples do to numb their brains after work. There's nothing you can do here at the moment.
MARY (with a nod at the white paper bag on the table): We brought Pad Thai for three, we thought -
SHERLOCK: No, no time. I’ve got to go back to the museum. I need to talk to the director.
Mary and John exchange a significant look.
JOHN (rather smugly): Not that you’ll still find her there.
Mary clicks her way to a news site on her phone and holds it out to Sherlock.
SHERLOCK (brightening up visibly): Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere.
He hands the phone back to Mary and marches over the table. He boots up his computer and prints off a picture that shows the museum’s director sitting in front of a forest of microphones, presumably at the press conference earlier that day. Sherlock pins it on the Wall of Evidence next to Commander Cunningham, right over the newspaper cut-out of little Joshua Allen. Then he steps back to admire the overall picture, looking very content.
SHERLOCK: Doctor Kasia Stepansky. Now she at least had proper enemies.
JOHN: You mean she's the victim? But she didn't get hit. She couldn't get hit, she was in Paris when it happened. And besides, you said yourself there was no knowing when exactly -
SHERLOCK (impatiently): Oh, come on. We both know there are more ways than one to destroy a person. (John pulls a pained face. Sherlock doesn't seem to notice.) This is Commander Cunningham all over again. Count Walsegg likes hurting people, but he likes it just as much when he can make them hurt themselves. He’s not a terrrorist. He picks his targets with great care and precision. It’s true, he didn’t care who Dippy collapsed on, but he could be absolutely certain what the consequences of such an accident would be for Doctor Stepanksy.
MARY: But what do you mean, she had proper enemies?
SHERLOCK: Her appointment to the directorship of the Natural History Museum was one of the most controversial decisions of that sort in the past couple of years.
JOHN: Why exactly?
SHERLOCK: Oh, everything. Too female, of course. Too young to run one of Britain’s most visited museums, at forty-four. Too foreign, never mind she was born in Kingston-upon-Hull and speaks in a broad Yorkshire accent. Too damp, too.
MARY (puzzled): “Damp”?
SHERLOCK: Apparently some people in the scientific community even took exception to the fact that she’s a marine biologist, though I really can’t tell what’s so particularly criminal about that. And then on top of everything else, she goes and wants to exterminate the country's most popular dinosaur... No, wait! (His eyes go wide, and he grins maniacally.) Maybe there is a world-wide conspiracy of marine biologists! They’re trying to take over world domination by eradicating all evidence that life on land ever existed, and they want to make us all grow gills and -
JOHN (drily): Blue whales are mammals, you know. They don't have gills.
SHERLOCK (deflating): Oh, don’t they? Well, the idea isn’t any more absurd than Anderson's theory that there's a world-wide conspiracy of Roman Catholics to restore the UK to the True Faith, make the Queen acknowledge Papal supremacy in all matters except in that of her choice of breakfast cereals, and turn the country into a theocracy under the rule of -
JOHN (completely bewildered): What?
Sherlock breaks off and shrugs.
JOHN: Anderson said that?
SHERLOCK (airily, his eyes back on the Wall): Something to that effect, anyway.
Behind Sherlock’s back, John and Mary exchange a very pointed look.
SHERLOCK (still not looking at them, innocently): But it does fire one’s imagination, doesn’t it, to know that the pivotal personage of this case is a practising Catholic?
JOHN: You mean Count Walsegg?
SHERLOCK: No. (He points at the picture of the judge.) The Honourable Mr Justice Talbot. He wears a crucifix around his neck. In his generation, that’s hardly just a fashion statement.
JOHN: How do you -
SHERLOCK (with a smile): Hospital nightgowns make such unflattering garments. They really tend to gape at the neck. Besides, the Talbots are one of the great old Catholic families in Britain. They’ve suffered and even died for their faith before.
JOHN: Are you saying now that the judge was some sort of martyr, or something?
SHERLOCK (slowly): Maybe…
JOHN (gesturing at the Wall): Erm - do you happen to know whether any of the others are believers of any sort?
SHERLOCK: Of course I know. (He points at each of the victims in turn.) David and Sibylla Hedlund – Lutheran. Commander Cunningham – C of E. Doctor Stepansky – atheist with Jewish roots.
JOHN: There’s no clue there, is there? I mean, if this really has anything to do with people’s faith, and with punishing them for their sins, then our pious judge would be one of the baddies, not a victim.
Sherlock turns sharply to face his friend again.
SHERLOCK (impatiently): John, I know that compulsively suspecting the Roman Catholics of evildoing is a deeply ingrained part of the collective English psyche, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s entirely untrue.
John frowns, trying but clearly failing to wrap his head around that sentence.
JOHN (confused): Does that mean what I think it means?
SHERLOCK (drily): Probably not.
Now he does walk over again to where his coat hangs behind the door, and pulls it on.
SHERLOCK: As we know, Count Walsegg doesn't always leave his victims alive. Can’t afford to miss out on the chance of talking to Doctor Stepansky about her sins.
He grins humourlessly.
JOHN: No, hang on. What about Anderson?
SHERLOCK (buttoning up his coat): What about him?
JOHN: Does he have an alibi for Ash Wednesday evening?
SHERLOCK (curtly): Yes. He was at his therapist's, between six and seven, and the doctor and the receptionist both bear him out.
JOHN (with a sigh): Well, so much for that lead, then. But Greg will be relieved now.
SHERLOCK (wryly): That it wasn't Anderson at our door? Or that Anderson's finally got himself a therapist?
JOHN: You know what I mean.
SHERLOCK: Ah, you mean the fact that the Empty Hearse is at the Met's and at our disposal in the battle to bring down Count Walsegg, should we require their help? Once they're done finding Elvis, that is. But they're almost sure they've identified him as the owner of a second hand bookshop in the Faroe Islands. And now do excuse me.
He turns, walks through the door, and disappears down the stairs. A moment later, the front door bangs shut. John and Mary look at each other in consternation.
MARY (after a moment): It did cross your mind where else they speak German, didn’t it?
JOHN (resigned): Of course. Austria. The home of Mozart, and of the real Count Walsegg. I thought I was joking when I said the Walseggs may still be around. (He shakes his head.) Bloody hell.
EXT. - Baker Street, outside No. 221B - DAY
Thursday, 13 March 2014
Sherlock is returning home, a plastic shopping bag in one hand and dangling a plastic bottle of milk from the other. He shifts the items into one hand to open the door to No. 221B, then steps through. He is about to shut the door behind him with his foot when he spies a large manila envelope on the entryway floor. He picks it up with his gloved hand and flips it over: No address, just his name hand-written in a calligraphy-style script on the front. He tests the weight with his hand, gives it a cursory sniff, puts it to his ear to listen for a moment, then tucks it under his arm. He walks upstairs and enters his flat through the side door into
INT. – 221B Baker Street – The Kitchen – DAY
Sherlock puts the milk and other groceries on the counter, neglecting the fridge, and places the envelope in the middle of the kitchen table, which is still cluttered with an array of scientific equipment. He shrugs off his coat onto the stool there, removes his leather gloves and replaces them with a pair of nitrile ones from a box on the table.
He flips the envelope over in his hands again and holds it up to the light. He then takes a cotton swab and dips it in alcohol before wiping it across the ink at the very end of the “s” in “Holmes”, and places the swab on top of a nearby petri dish.
He puts on a face mask, then picks up a knife from the dish rack behind him and opens the envelope, sliding the contents carefully out onto the table top. It is two packages of commercial sheet music, each clipped together. Sherlock checks the envelope for additional materials, but finds none. He takes off the mask, picks up the sheet music, and crosses over to his desk, removing his gloves as he goes, sits down and flips open his laptop.
He removes the clip from the first packet of paper and lays the three piec es of music contained therein side by side. Then he types into a search bar and pulls up a recording of the first song, Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”, and listens for a moment.
Hearing nothing of note, he opens a second window and begins to play the next piece, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Then he does the same with the last piece of music, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14.
The songs overlap for several seconds before he stops them all and turns to the second packet. He unclips it as well and lays out two more pieces of music. He blinks. One of these seems to be completely unfamiliar to him. He opens a fourth window and begins to play “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis.
He nods in appreciation, then pauses it. He opens a final window and begins to play "Lean into the Wind" by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, before pulling a face and quickly stopping it.
Then he moves the cursors on all five songs back to the beginning, and quickly hits “play” on all five windows. The cacophony of five disparate songs fills the flat.
Sherlock shakes his head.
The Personal Blog of Dr John H. Watson
Another Musical Puzzle
Just heard from Sherlock. More strange envelopes arriving at Baker Street.
Commercial Sheet music this time.
1. Ponchielli's “Dance of the Hours”
2. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
3. Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14
1. “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis
2. "Lean into the Wind" by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
Anyone know what it could mean?
I can't get anything useful out of Sherlock at all. He just keeps muttering that it's a sacrilege to force Thomas Tallis into such close vicinity with something as trivial as the Carmelite Sisters' song. The snob.
News article picture by RubraSaetaFictor
Envelope photo by RubraSaetaFictor
Where we could, we tried to use versions of the songs that were as accessible as possible, but if you're having trouble with the videos in this chapter, note that any traditional versions of the song will do. As for Lean into the Wind, try the link in the text (http://leanintothewind.com/music/), which will take you directly to their website, where they have some audio files of their album. Unfortunately we couldn't find a video version that wasn't region locked. :(
The Personal Blog of Dr John H. Watson
Sherlock Holmes - 1:15 p. m.
Anyone got it yet?
John Watson - 1:18 p. m.
Don't think so. No lack of creative theories, though.
Sherlock Holmes - 1:19 p. m.
YOU were the one who insisted on putting the puzzle in your blog. Don’t tell me I have to figure it out myself after all.
John Watson - 1:21 p. m.
Oh, I’m sure you could. Look what I found, by the way.
Sweet, isn't it?
Greg Lestrade - 1:23 p.m.
Oi! How the hell did you get that???
Sherlock Holmes - 1:25 p. m.
John slept with the Home Secretary.
John Watson - 1:29 p.m.
Sherlock! That's not even funny!
Sherlock Holmes - 1:31 p.m.
So you did?
John Watson - 1:33 p.m.
NO, damn you. I got it from the lady who looks after the Met archive.
Greg Lestrade - 1:35 p.m.
Who is even older than the Home Secretary and twice as heavy. You sure it was worth the trouble, John?
Sherlock Holmes - 1:38 p.m.
Looking at the picture, I'd say yes. Do you ever do anything else on duty than eat?
Greg Lestrade - 1:41 p.m.
And monitor John's blog to see whether you're behaving, you mean?
Sherlock Holmes - 1:43 p.m.
You do realise that John only posted that photo to check that you were?
Greg Lestrade - 1:46 p.m.
Oh, sod off. John, call me when someone's figured the puzzle out.
John Watson - 1:49 p.m.
Will do. And just for the record - the lady in question is a grateful patient of mine, and she'd do much worse things for a batch of Mrs Hudson's shortbread.
John Watson - 1:55 p.m.
Sherlock, we’ve got it! Stop sulking and answer your bloody phone!
Photo edit by RubraSaetaFictor, original photo by Jorge Royan
INT. – New Scotland Yard – Conference Room – DUSK
Thursday, 13 March 2014
It's late afternoon, and the conference room at New Scotland Yard is already in darkness. The blinds have been drawn, and a map is projected on a white board at one end of the room. It shows a street junction. The large table in the middle of the room is arranged to accommodate a dozen people, but the only person currently sitting at it is Sergeant Sally Donovan, who mans a laptop. Sherlock and John are standing behind her, their eyes on the map. Both parties are studiously ignoring each other.
JOHN (under his breath, to Sherlock): I still can’t believe you didn’t figure out it was a street junction. (Nodding at Sherlock's forehead) I thought you had the whole London A to Z up there.
SHERLOCK (miffed): I can’t believe the simpletons who read your blog did figure it out.
JOHN (with a grin): Well, you’ve got your mind palace, we’ve got the internet.
Sally Donovan turns around as if to make a snide comment, but at that moment, the door bangs open and Greg Lestrade comes striding into the room. Sally wipes the nascent sneer off her face. Lestrade pockets the phone he's been holding in his hand, and nods hello to Sherlock and John.
LESTRADE: Sorry I'm late. This is shaping up to be quite a big affair! (He rubs his hands together, and grins encouragingly at the two friends.) Tallis Street and Carmelite Street in the City, near Blackfriars pier. “Hours nine fourteen moonlight”, 9:14 p. m. Your blog readers have outdone themselves, John. (John smiles and sketches a little bow. Sherlock scowls, which is ignored by everyone else.) And quick enough to give us the time we needed to secure the location, too. (Confidently) Verse Five will be Count Walsegg's last. (He pulls out the chair next to Sally Donovan's and sits down in it, facing the whiteboard.) Right, this was the situation earlier this afternoon. (To Sally) Let’s take a walk.
Sally clicks the map closed and opens a new folder. Enlarged on the whiteboard, its title is clearly visible.
SHERLOCK (in a tone of disbelief): “Operation Salieri”?
LESTRADE (with a shrug): Yeah, you know. The movie.
SHERLOCK: That’s idiotic. I protest.
LESTRADE: It’s catchy.
SHERLOCK (with great indignation): It defies all historical accuracy. Antonio Salieri is probably the most slandered personage in the history of music! Mozart may have been the genius, but Salieri was far more successful. He was the court composer, he earned all the money, he got all the recognition. He'd have had no reason whatsoever to want Mozart dead. He even wrote some music together with Mozart, according to recent research!
JOHN (under his breath): Oh, just because you work together with someone doesn't mean you can't feel an urge to –
Sally stifles a snort.
LESTRADE (with a slightly annoyed glance at Sherlock): If we're done with the really essential problems, can we go on?
John shrugs and takes the chair on Sally’s other side. Sherlock remains standing. With another click, Sally changes the image on the whiteboard to some footage of the Tallis Street and Carmelite Street area. She starts moving slowly down from the northern end of Carmelite Street, towards the river.
LESTRADE: As you can see, they're both pretty short streets. Just offices, no residential buildings, no shops, no restaurants. They’ll be virtually deserted at 9 p. m.
The three men watch in silence as Sally takes them up to the junction, looks left and right into both halves of Tallis Street, and then continues into the cul-de-sac southern portion of Carmelite Street.
LESTRADE: As for possible targets, we've got four potentials: Hachette, Orion, Rising Stars and Hodder Education. They're all publishing houses, all in the same building, at the southern end of Carmelite Street. They’re the only places related to books we could identify. There are no bookshops anywhere near there, and no libraries. The other offices in the area are just what you'd expect in the City – lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, marketing agencies, a gold and jewels trading company, that sort of thing.
JOHN (nodding at the images on the whiteboard): There's a lot of construction work going on, isn't there? Isn't that exactly Count Walsegg's favourite type of camouflage?
Sally and Greg exchange a meaningful look, both smiling.
SHERLOCK (seeing it, in a rather discontented mutter): Oh, very clever.
LESTRADE: You needn't worry about those workers, John. They're all ours. We’d blocked off parts of the streets with equipment this afternoon, as cover for checking every parked car, every manhole and every lightwell in the area for bombs and the like. And anything that's happening there now is being monitored by some additional CCTV cameras, with a live feed to our temporary on-scene headquarters. Walsegg will play no tricks on us this time.
JOHN (genuinely impressed): Have you managed to tap the counter-terrorism budget somehow?
LESTRADE (wryly, with a nod at Sherlock): No, just taking a leaf out of his book.
SHERLOCK (with a frown): What book now?
LESTRADE: The one that says the right ends justify any means.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, pointedly): Unless it turns out they don't, like at Cunningham's funeral. In that case, it'll be a leaf out of your cheque book instead this time.
JOHN: What if Count Walsegg’s got his attack planned on someone inside that building with the publishers, and doesn't come out onto the street at all?
LESTRADE: Then at least he won't harm anyone. By nine, the building would be mostly empty anyway, and we've made doubly sure that there'll be nobody working late in there today. And the cleaning lady's getting a night off, too.
SHERLOCK: That’s what doesn’t make any sense.
LESTRADE: What’s that?
SHERLOCK: Why attack at night? Everything else we've seen from Count Walsegg has been quite flashy and rather public. Why attack an office building in a commercial district when everyone’s gone home? Who could he possibly hope to hit? Seriously, the cleaning lady? We’ve established that his targets are high profile individuals. Or are you telling me you got anything useful out of their managements? Anything that suggests they should expect an attack?
LESTRADE: No, nothing. I talked to reps from all four companies, but they're all just like what you said about Kasia Stepansky - no idea that they could have anything violent coming.
JOHN (to Sherlock, incredulously): Are you saying that Doctor Stepansky didn't know she'd made so few friends in her job?
SHERLOCK: Of course she knows. She handed me four folders, each as thick as my arm, filled with the hate mail she'd got about getting rid of Dippy alone. But she insisted she's got no idea who'd resort to actual violence against her museum.
LESTRADE (pensively): This is so odd, you know. I’ve never known a series of crimes where the victims keep denying they’re victims at all, even after the event.
SALLY: There’s something the survivors aren’t telling us. They’ve all got a secret.
SHERLOCK: A secret that means more to them than their lives?
LESTRADE: Well, not always their lives. Maybe it’s like the museum this time, too. A reputational hit, rather than a physical one.
SHERLOCK: But then it makes even less sense for Count Walsegg to act when no one can see the consequences.
JOHN: What sort of books do they publish?
SALLY: Hodder and Rising Stars, schoolbooks. Hachette and Orion, all sorts of fiction and non-fiction.
LESTRADE: They churn out thousands of new releases every year, from hundreds of authors. There could easily be something among that to -
JOHN: - to annoy a fervent Roman Catholic?
LESTRADE (unconvinced): You said that, not me. Anyway. (He checks his watch.) People will start arriving here for the final briefing in about five minutes, so - (to Sherlock) - anything caught your eye that we missed? 'Cause if not, I think that's it.
Sally Donovan switches the image on the whiteboard back to the map of the Tallis Street/Carmelite Street junction.
SHERLOCK: You always miss something. But we'll just have to play the rest by ear when we get there.
He starts walking towards the whiteboard, as if something on the map has arrested his attention. Behind his back, Lestrade and Sally Donovan exchange a look. Sally gives her boss a faint, half-sympathetic and half-sceptical smile. Lestrade clears his throat.
LESTRADE: Erm, Sherlock - you're not going.
SHERLOCK (his eyes still on the map): Of course I am.
LESTRADE (crossing his arms): No. You’re not. You will be somewhere far from Blackfriars tonight, not getting killed.
Sherlock turns back towards the others, his eyebrows drawn together in a massive frown.
SHERLOCK: You can’t be serious. You’ll be there only because John and I alone can’t keep a guard on four street corners at once.
LESTRADE (sensibly): Sherlock, you leave this to us. We’ve got it covered. Something happens, we’ll be there to stop it. Walsegg shows up, we’ll be there to arrest him.
SHERLOCK (narrowing his eyes): You always miss something.
LESTRADE (firmly): You’re gonna have to come up with a better reason than “the Met is a bunch of idiots” to get me to let you within a mile of that junction tonight.
SHERLOCK (scathingly): What are you, a policeman or a mother hen?
LESTRADE: You’re not going anywhere near this.
Sherlock huffs an impatient breath, then rounds the lower end of the long conference table for an even closer look at the map.
SHERLOCK (in an undertone, as if talking to himself): Something’s going to happen there, and we know it. He’s never been this specific before. Hints and clues, yes, but a place and time? I have to be there.
He turns sharply back to face the others again, stepping directly into the beam of the light from the projector. The picture of the crossroads falls neatly right onto his chest, like a target painted onto it. John and Lestrade both grimace.
LESTRADE: Sherlock, you’re not gonna do him the favour, are you? What if the concert tickets and the museum were just trial runs? He held up a hoop, twice, and you jumped every time. What if he wants you to be more than a spectator this time?
SHERLOCK: And what happens if it’s 9:14 p.m., and Walsegg sees I’m not there? He’ll run before you ever get a chance to touch him. If he hasn’t already, seeing how busy you’ve been about the place all afternoon.
JOHN (sensibly): We don’t even know he’ll be there himself. He’s always kept a distance, so far. It’s not like there was a three-cornered hat peeking out of the bushes at Cunningham’s funeral, or over a balustrade at the museum.
SHERLOCK (urgently): Lestrade, he sent me that invitation. He wants me to be there. It’s a true rendezvous this time! If I don’t keep it, we’ll never -
LESTRADE (raising his voice in exasperation): You don’t even realise it, do you? You’re playing right into his hands! (John, looking very unhappy, emphatically nods in agreement.) It’s exactly what he wants you to do!
SHERLOCK (equally loudly): You need me there! You need me there as bait!
LESTRADE: I’m not using you as bait!
SALLY (to Lestrade): He’s right, you know.
John looks daggers at her.
LESTRADE (snappishly): I know he’s right! (To Sherlock, practically shouting at him) For the last time, no!
INT. - Corner Shop, Tudor Street/Whitefriars Street, London – NIGHT
In a very small , brightly lit convenience shop on the corner of Tudor Street and Whitefriars Street in the City of London, close to the junction named by Count Walsegg for the rendezvous, the final preparations for Operation Salieri are in full swing. The narrow space is packed with people. There is hardly room to turn. Half a dozen police officers have squeezed themselves into the place, in between racks and shelves filled with newspapers, magazines, sweets, crisps, postcards and stationery items. There’s a steady hum of ordered activity, radios beeping and phones buzzing, but also an underlying nervous tension. There are no smiles to be seen on any of the faces there.
Squashed into a corner behind the counter, the Indian shopkeeper and his wife are looking on with wide eyes, rather overwhelmed at having their shop taken over by the authorities. Every time someone’s shoulder or elbow bumps into one of the racks and stands, jostling the merchandise and occasionally even knocking an item down, the shop owner winces. Every time the guilty officer picks it up again and apologises, which they invariably do, he forces a half-hearted smile.
The stool by the till has been given up to Sally Donovan, who sits on it with her eyes on three laptops at once, all set up in a row on the counter. Next to her is a uniformed officer with a headset on and a small portable radio station in front of him. He’s fiddling with the controls.
A familiar voice rings out angrily through the shop, making everyone’s heads turn. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle, Sherlock and Greg Lestrade are having the final instalment of an argument that seems to have continued all evening. Sherlock, obliged to stand still while a police technician is busy affixing a tiny microphone to the inside of his coat lapel, is making up for his forced immobility with extra verbal vehemence.
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade, peevishly): You can bin that broken record now, Inspector. I don't care whether it's a good idea or not, I care about what gets us a result!
LESTRADE: I just want to make sure you'll -
SHERLOCK: - be a good boy and play by your rules? Well, that's what I'm doing, isn't it?
LESTRADE: That's not what I –
He breaks off, and exchanges a helpless look with John, as if for his support. But John, who is perched uncomfortably on the edge of an open multi-deck chiller cabinet filled with a colourful array of cans and bottles with fizzy drinks, seems to have given up trying to stop Sherlock going to face Count Walsegg in person. He merely gives a resigned shrug. The bells of nearby St Paul's Cathedral can be heard chiming four quarters of an hour, then nine o'clock.
LESTRADE (tersely): Fourteen minutes.
The radio crackles, and in come the voices of the officers stationed at the four ends of Carmelite and Tallis Street.
FIRST RADIO VOICE: Embankment, all clear.
SECOND RADIO VOICE: Temple Avenue, two persons moving into Carmelite Street. Young Asian couple, dressed up for night out.
Everyone in the shop falls silent and turns towards the radio to listen. Sally seems to be following the young couple's progress on one of the laptops
THIRD RADIO VOICE: Armed Response Team, Carmelite House, all clear.
FOURTH RADIO VOICE: John Carpenter Street. Asian couple coming up - (A pause.) - and through. All clear.
Sally nods in confirmation. Everyone in the shop relaxes visibly. The technician who's been working on Sherlock's coat straightens up and takes a step back, his task finished. Sherlock adjusts his coat, the long hem knocking a bag of crisps off a rack. He doesn’t move to pick it up.
RADIO OPERATOR (to Sally, in an undertone): Whose idea was it again to set up camp in here?
SALLY (curtly, her eyes on the screens): Only place where lights on after nine won't attract attention.
RADIO OPERATOR (looking around longingly at the well-stocked shelves): I could do with a Mars bar. And a coke.
SALLY: You heard what the boss said. No self-service.
Lestrade checks his watch.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock): Alright, get the mic tested, and then off you go. Before you're late
SALLY (in a whisper, to the radio operator): And before Doctor Watson freezes his -
But at this moment, John gets to his feet, reaches down and replaces the bag of crisps, saving Sally the need of expressing her concerns in more detail. The radio crackles again.
FIFTH RADIO VOICE: Tudor Street, all clear. Ten minutes to go.
EXT. - Outside the Corner Shop, Tudor Street/Whitefriars Street – NIGHT
The door of the convenience shop opens, and out steps Sherlock, his coat buttoned up and his hands in his pockets. He stands there for a moment as if to get his bearings, then crosses Tudor Street and enters Carmelite Street from the north. He's now in the area designated by Count Walsegg in his coded message.
Silence engulfs him. As predicted, the street is deserted, the only light coming from the street lamps. There is no sign of life in the windows of the office buildings on either side of the street. Sherlock walks slowly, in plain view in the middle of the roadway, his eyes sweeping across the facades and even up to the roofs. Except for him, nothing moves.
He reaches the junction of Carmelite Street and Tallis Street, and halts right in the centre of the crossroads. Turning slowly to the left, he looks down the eastern half of Tallis Street. There's nothing to be seen there. The officers deployed to guard that end of the street are making a good job of keeping out of sight. Sherlock turns to the right, to look down the western half of Tallis Street. A neat row of bicycles parked at a cycle hire station casts bizarre shadows in the darkness.
INT. - Corner Shop, Tudor Street/Whitefriars Street – NIGHT
In the temporary headquarters of Operation Salieri , the noise and activity from a moment ago has given way to a tense silence. The three laptops with the live feed from the local CCTV cameras have been turned around to face the saleroom. Lestrade , John, all the other officers and even the shopkeeper and his wife are gathered around them in a semi-circle, all their eyes fixed on the screens. The middle one shows an image from the crossroads, filmed from above, as if from a first floor window, with Sherlock standing there, his back to the camera, obviously undecided which route to take from there.
JOHN (checking his watch, in a tight voice): Five minutes.
SALLY: Should have moved those bikes. What if Count Walsegg just cycles out of reach?
SHOPKEEPER (dead serious): Need a key card and a code for those.
LESTRADE (sharply): Ssh!
Sherlock, on the screen, seems to have made up his mind, and walks on. Lestrade, without even being aware of it, reaches for a chocolate bar from a shelf at his elbow, peels off the wrapper and takes a bite, his eyes still riveted on the CCTV image .
EXT. - Carmelite Street - NIGHT
Sherlock, neglecting Tallis Street for the moment, continues along Carmelite Street, now entering its southern half.
At its end, beyond a row of bollards closing the street off, the traffic on the busy Victoria Embankment is rushing along, headlights swishing past in blurry flashes. Beyond the Embankment, the dark water of the Thames is flowing sluggishly. On Carmelite Street itself, the silence seems to be even deeper now. All doors into the buildings and all gateways leading into courtyards and underground car parks are closed. Walking along, Sherlock glances up at the dark windows of Carmelite House, where the Armed Response Team is lurking somewhere, protecting the offices of the publishing houses headquartered there. Nothing.
Sherlock reaches the end of the street. Standing by one of the bollards, he looks out towards the river for a moment, then takes his phone out of his pocket. The screen lights up, the clock on it saying 21:13. It switches to 21:14 only a second or two later, and right on cue, the silenced phone buzzes faintly to signal an incoming text message.
Sherlock, his face lit from below by the faint glow from his phone, can be seen to smile with grim satisfaction. He turns away from the river, back towards the crossroads. About twenty-five yards ahead, a solitary figure stands on the pavement opposite Carmelite House. The distinctive shape of the three-cornered hat on its head is clearly visible in the dim light, but the Grey Messenger seems to have dispensed with his cloak for the occasion, and changed it for a modern dark jacket and trousers. His face is in shadow, whether masked or not is impossible to tell from the distance. He stands there motionless for a moment. Then he moves sideways, until he seems to merge with the façade of the building there, and melts away out of sight. Without the slightest hesitation, Sherlock pockets his phone and follows. St. Paul’s chimes a quarter past nine.
The place where the Messenger has shown himself and then disappeared is only one door away from the junction. There is an opening in the façade there, marked with a No. 5, that leads into an underground car park. A few yards back from the road, the metal gate with massive vertical bars that closed it off when Sherlock walked past it earlier now stands open, a pitch black, gaping mouth like an entrance into the underworld. The Messenger is nowhere to be seen.
Sherlock glances left and right, then takes a deep breath, and walks inside.
I NT. - Corner Shop, Tudor Street/Whitefriars Street – NIGHT
The shopkeeper and his wife are staring in bewilderment at the door of their shop, the bell on its handle jingling as it slowly closes. On the floor, there are the remains of a half-eaten chocolate bar and its wrapper, trampled into the flooring. Apart from them, the shop is now empty.
EXT. – Car Park, Carmelite Street - NIGHT
Complete darkness surrounds Sherlock , growing even deeper as the ground slopes beneath him and the concrete-paved ramp takes him into the building’s basement. At the bottom of the ramp, the driveway turns at a right angle into the expanse of the car park.
Sherlock halts, and listens intently. Then he speaks up.
SHERLOCK: I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.
His voice echoes in the darkness. There is no response.
SHERLOCK: You’ve been so eager for my attention – what is it now? Stage fright? I’m here. I’m waiting.
Silence. Sherlock takes a few more steps into the car park. Very faintly, the outline of a parked car looms up before him. He stretches out his arm to feel his way further inside.
SHERLOCK: We have more in common than you may think, you and I. People complain that I like to be mysterious. That I like to speak in riddles. That I keep overdoing the drama. But it looks like I’m a choirboy, compared to you.
He breaks off, listening again, but to no avail.
SHERLOCK: But I don’t suppose we’re here to compare notes, pun intended. I only have one question for you, if you have none for me. Are you really writing my Requiem? Or are you writing your own?
There is still no response. But then suddenly, a loud clicking noise rings out, and then the whirr and hum of an electric motor , coming down the ramp from the direction of the exit. Sherlock’s head swivels around in surprise. He makes an instinctive move towards the source of the noise, which must be that of the automatic closing mechanism of the gate, as if tempted to run before the Messenger can shut him in. But too late - there is movement in the darkness already, shadows moving down the ramp, seen in outline against the lesser dark outside, invading the car park from the street and spreading out along the walls. Sherlock, hearing the figures surround him, curses under his breath, but he looks more annoyed than surprised now, let alone frightened.
With a single, echoing bang, the street gate falls closed, and the motor switches itself off. There is a moment of tense silence. Then, somewhere towards the far end of the car park, there is a sudden gasp of surprise, a rustle of clothes – then a loud bumping noise, and immediately afterwards, a loud wail of pain and distress, and a rush of running feet.
Sherlock starts forward, racing towards the source of the noise. All around him and behind him, lights come on, the beams of police issue torches slicing through the darkness with blinding brightness. One of the dancing beams centres on a metal door in the rear wall of the car park that seems to lead into the building itself, and on a masked but bare-headed figure standing by it, frantically punching numbers into the keypad next to the door on the wall. A collective hunting cry rises from its pursuers, now all heading for the door. But by then, the door is already open. The figure slides through and hurls itself against it from the inside to force it shut again, just as Sherlock, ahead of everyone else and mere feet away now, makes a headlong dive for it to bodily stop it closing. He miscalculates by a hand’s breath, and ends up flat on his front on the dirty floor, the lower edge of the heavy door scraping over his outstretched fingers as it falls shut.
Sally Donovan, torch in hand, is by Sherlock's side even before he can scramble back to his feet. She takes him by the arm, just short of actually hauling him back up.
SALLY (gesturing at the closed door, urgently): Go on, open it! Can't you figure it out?
SHERLOCK (testily): Oh, no point.
Sherlock brushes her hand off, and points at the card reader-plus-keypad on the wall.
SHERLOCK: The code's no use without a card! You go and tell your Armed Response monkeys out there to cover all the doors, and then get the building's security to open the place for us double quick! If it’s not too late already!
Sally sighs in exasperation, but then, acknowledging that it is their best course of action, she gets out her radio.
JOHN WATSON'S VOICE (off-screen, calling from behind a nearby parked car): And an ambulance please, Sergeant. I've got something here that may need realigning.
Sherlock, momentarily puzzled, moves around the back of the car hiding John. In a circle of torchlight, Greg Lestrade is crouched on the concrete floor there, shoulders hunched, head lowered, his breath hissing in and out through gritted teeth. He's covering his face with both hands, blood welling out between his fingers. John is squatting next to him with a steadying arm around his shoulders. More officers are standing around the pair of them in great consternation, helpfully holding torches and offering fresh tissues.
JOHN (to Lestrade): Breathe through your mouth, slowly. (Lestrade makes an indistinct sound.) No, don't talk. (John looks up at Sherlock.) Count Walsegg. Broke Greg's nose when he tried to stop him.
John nods at the floor by Greg's side. There's a black three-cornered hat lying there, as if to mock them all. For a moment, the muscles in Sherlock's face work furiously. He flexes his skinned fingers, and grimaces at how they smart. But then he abruptly turns on his heel and stalks towards the exit of the car park without another word. Half a dozen pairs of eyes follow him out, none of them particularly impressed, none of them particularly sympathetic.
SALLY (calling after Sherlock, her voice dripping with sarcasm): "Thank you for saving my life," eh?
Sherlock walks on.
Tallis St/Carmelite St map from openstreetmap.org
Text message picture by RubraSaetaFictor
INT. - New Scotland Yard – Communal Office Space – DAY
Friday, 14 March 2014
Mid-morning on the next day. John Watson, in his black jacket, comes walking through the open office space outside Greg Lestrade's office at New Scotland Yard. The officers present look up and nod good morning as he passes them. But in some faces at least, under their mask of politeness, there is also a hint of hidden amusement, which seems strangely out of place on a team that's just failed to catch a dangerous criminal, and had their boss knocked out of action in the process, too.
But when John reaches the open door into Lestrade's office, he learns why.
INT. - New Scotland Yard – Greg Lestrade's Office – DAY
The place looks as if someone has literally set the cat among the pigeons. Folders, boxes and pieces of paper are strewn haphazardly all over the desk and have also flown over onto the visitor chairs. Only the Detective-Inspector's own chair has been left respectfully empty and unoccupied.
Sherlock is pacing up and down in the narrow space in front of the desk, still in his coat. He holds a printout in his hand and is rattling off what appear to be company names. Sally Donovan, standing behind the desk, is busy trying to collect and rearrange all the papers in their respective files, her face flushed with annoyance.
SHERLOCK: La Cicogna Pizza and Pasta, Clerkenwell; Cityclean Laundromat and Dry Cleaning Services, Leadenhall; Cunningham Executive Cars, Chelsea - take a note of that one, sounds promising -
SALLY (still filing furiously): Bloody hell, I'm not your secretary! You’re allowed to tell me results, but I don't need a transcript of your entire thought process, thank you very much! (She slams down one reassembled folder, and picks up the next.) God, how John Watson puts up with -
She breaks off, spotting John leaning in the open door, grinning. Sally flushes an even darker colour, still more angry than embarrassed.
SALLY (to John, sarcastically): But it's fine, of course, he's only trying to help.
SHERLOCK: Help? (With a sweeping gesture across the apparent chaos) I’m trying to get anything useful out of this place at all! (Pointing an accusing – and neatly bandaged - forefinger at Sally) Your filing system is absolutely useless.
SALLY: Oh yeah, sure! It's only worked for us for over a hundred years! (To John) Just for your information, this was five neat folders only an hour ago. (Gesturing at the computer) Good thing he hasn’t managed to figure out Greg’s password, too.
She grabs another stack of papers, squares them with a lot more vehemence than necessary, and puts them back in their proper place.
SHERLOCK (in a tone of supreme unconcern): I know yours.
SALLY: The hell you do.
Sherlock shrugs and returns to perusing his list, but he's doing it in silence now. John is looking from one to the other, obviously trying to make up his mind whether to find the scene in front of him amusing or alarming, and whether it would be better to stop it, or to settle down with a bag of popcorn and enjoy it. But before he can make a decision, a young uniformed constable squeezes past him with a muttered apology, more papers in his hand. He holds them out to Sally.
YOUNG CONSTABLE: Fax, ma'am.
SALLY (taking them): Thanks.
She glances over them. The constable departs.
SALLY (in a surprisingly neutral tone, to Sherlock): No one on the staff of Jameson and Watt is missing their key card this morning.
JOHN (with a frown): Jameson and Watt?
SHERLOCK (impatiently): Chartered Accountants. Number five Carmelite Street. Nice classy office building with a handy underground car park. Sound familiar?
SALLY (turning a page): And the number of their employees that fit the description of male, short blond hair, between twenty and thirty and under five foot seven is short. Only four people.
Sherlock nods approvingly.
JOHN (to Sherlock, jerking his head at the list in his friend's hand): Who are all those other companies then?
SHERLOCK: Their clients, obviously.
JOHN (puzzled): But they wouldn't hand out key cards and access codes to their clients, would they?
SALLY: Of course not, but - (with a nod at Sherlock, slipping back into her former tone of annoyance) - my guest here seems to think there could be a connection, and who'd dare contradict a genius?
Sherlock glares at her.
JOHN: Oh, he'll live. (To Sherlock) What connection exactly?
Sherlock throws the list down on the cluttered desk, runs both hands into his hair and pulls at it, as if in frustration at the slowness of the world in general, and of retired army doctors in particular.
SHERLOCK: John, please don't tell me Sally here got it quicker than you did!
JOHN: Get what?
SHERLOCK: The written book, John! The written book in which everything is contained, and from which the world shall be judged. The fifth verse of the Dies Irae!
JOHN: Yeah, of course. What’s it got to do with -
SHERLOCK: Accountants are book-keepers, John! What did Count Walsegg mean, if not a company's books, in which they have to put down everything they own and do, and from which they’ll be judged on the days of their audits? Even the street number fits. Five.
JOHN (peeved): Yeah, well, excuse me, I spent half the night at an A&E with a friend, trying all manners of tricks to make him jump the queue, none of them successful, and all of them unworthy of my profession. So I think I'm entitled to be slow this morning. Clean break, by the way, no surgery necessary, back on duty in a week or so. Thank you for asking.
Sally snorts disdainfully. Sherlock scowls. John narrows his eyes, and continues in the same reproachful tone.
JOHN: So you knew that? That Verse Five was about the accountants, and that we were on the wrong track with the publishers?
SALLY (very sceptically): He says he didn't know.
SHERLOCK (to John, in a suddenly very quiet tone): I didn't.
John looks from Sherlock's face to Sally's, both of them equally frustrated, equally implacable, and equally unforgiving. Then his eyes wander to Greg Lestrade's glaringly empty chair. A very uncomfortable silence descends onto the room. Then John clears his throat.
JOHN (to Sherlock): But you’re certain now? About Verse Five, I mean?
SHERLOCK (with a frown): Of course I am.
JOHN: And he really was targeting you this time.
SHERLOCK: No, that’s still nonsense. If he really wanted to kill me, he had all the time in the world for that in the car park, before you lot barged in.
JOHN: But then who was supposed to be the victim this time?
SHERLOCK: Either Jameson or Watt. Though my money’s on Watt.
JOHN: Why’s that?
SHERLOCK: Our victims to date are not only rich and at least semi-famous, they're also exemplary members of society. David Hedlund has won awards for his football club's scheme that challenges binge drinking and violence among supporters. His wife has written books on healthy living that are bestsellers in Sweden. Justice Talbot is of course an epitome of justice ex officio, but unlike some of his colleagues he can actually boast of a reputation that matches his title. Commander Cunningham was internationally famous for his battle against corruption. Doctor Stepansky was trying to save the planet with her museum’s work. Mr Watt's in good company there. He sits on the board of at least three notable charities - RSPCA and the like. Mr Jameson, on the other hand, seems to spend all his leisure time golfing.
SALLY: Watt’s a lucky man, then.
JOHN: I’d say he’s not out of the woods yet. Or Count Walsegg may go looking for a new victim for Verse Five now. He hasn’t yet managed to stage a proper image for that verse, after all.
SHERLOCK (with a wry smile): And there’s nothing that’s more nagging to a music lover than an unresolved tune, you mean?
SALLY: But neither Jameson nor Watt were in the building last night. Nobody was. (To John) Jameson’s on holiday. Watt left his office shortly after six. At 9:14 p. m., he was at a long-scheduled RSPCA board meeting down in Sussex. (With a discontented glance at Sherlock) If Count Walsegg really was after one of the senior partners of the firm, he was pretty badly informed.
Sherlock is about to respond when the young constable brings in another fax, this time a single sheet, with a coat of arms in the letterhead. Sally receives it, and reads from it rather haltingly.
SALLY: "Landespolizeidirektion Niederösterreich?" What's that?
Sherlock takes the paper from her and looks over it.
SHERLOCK: Your Austrian colleagues. They confirm that there are no known descendants of the Walsegg family left, legitimate or illegitimate, under that name or another, neither in Austria nor anywhere else. (He reads on, relating the gist of it aloud.) Their manor house, Schloss Stuppach, was a ruin until the local authorities seized it and started restoring it in recent years. Neither it nor the estate have ever been claimed by a supposed heir. (With a pointed look at John) So much for that lead.
John shrugs. Sherlock balls up the fax and lobs it neatly into the waste-paper basket by the door.
SALLY (exasperated): Jesus Christ!
She marches over, fishes the crumpled paper back out, flattens it on the desk, punches two angry holes into it and ostentatiously files it with the rest of the documents pertaining to the case. Sherlock rolls his eyes at the heavens.
JOHN (to Sally): So, erm - any other leads? I mean, we don’t even know how he got out of that building, do we?
SALLY (with a frustrated sigh): We went through the place with a fine tooth comb after you left with Greg, but it’s a maze. Three adjoining parts from three different eras, six staircases, four official exits and two more emergency ones. Two roof terraces, too. By the time we had all of it covered, he could have been miles away. Probably was.
JOHN: Any luck tracing his phone yet?
SALLY: The text came from one of those pay-as-you-go SIM cards that get sold by the hundreds to visitors and exchange students every day. We're waiting for the phone company to get back to us where it was sold, and when and where activated.
JOHN: Is there anything on the audio recording that could serve as a clue? (To Sherlock) He never spoke to you, did he?
SHERLOCK (quickly): There's nothing on there.
SALLY (to John , with a sudden hint of wry amusement): Except for a surprisingly colourful profanity when Count Walsegg closed the door in his face. I'm planning to make that my new ringtone.
Sherlock looks daggers at her. Yet again, the young constable saves the day, this time carrying a large sealed evidence bag. Inside is a black angular object.
YOUNG CONSTABLE (handing the bag to Sally): The lab's finished, ma'am.
SHERLOCK (snatching the bag out of the officer's hand, excitedly): Ha! Finally! Any results yet?
YOUNG CONSTABLE (surrendering the bag reluctantly): No, but they're confident about extracting DNA.
Sherlock pulls the bag open, takes out the Messenger's hat and turns it upside down. On the inside, there is a small label attached to the black fabric, reading "19.079".
SHERLOCK: Aha. No brand name, but a serial number. So this is from a props department. He's taking shape, our Count Walsegg.
SALLY: And which of the hundreds of theatres in London is it from?
SHERLOCK: Use your brain, Sally. (He holds the hat out for her to read the label.) I doubt places like Covent Garden or the National Theatre make do with only three figures in any of their subsections. I'd try the small places first. The independent ones, and the colleges. And anyone who's put on a production of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus" in the past ten years.
SALLY: Oh golly, you an expert in modern literature now, too?
JOHN (with a smile): You should hear him, he even quotes Communist poetry when the fancy takes him.
SHERLOCK (glaring at John): I had to learn that for a case, John! It’s difficult to infiltrate a radical student group if you don’t know the buzzwords.
SALLY (to Sherlock, sounding genuinely interested for a moment): Was that for the London School of Economics murder?
JOHN (incredulously): They have radical Communist student groups at the London School of Economics?
SHERLOCK: Oh yes. Where better? (Drily) Never crammed more utterly irrational tripe into my head in a shorter time.
JOHN (with a laugh): Not even in the Vatican?
SHERLOCK (generously): Ah, yes. You may have a point there.
The young constable, who has watched the entire exchange in silent fascination, finally retreats, already glowing with the anticipation of how this particular anecdote will be received by his peers in the outer office. Sherlock flips the hat into the air, making it spin, and catches it again neatly, suddenly looking almost happy.
SHERLOCK: Well, then - come on, John. I want to be at the Royal Courts of Justice before noon.
JOHN (a little morosely): You and that judge of yours. I still don't see what makes him so special.
They turn towards the door, and are about to walk through when Sally speaks up sharply behind their backs.
SALLY: The hat stays here!
Sherlock turns back. She holds out her hand.
SHERLOCK (weighing the hat in his own, calmly): Why? The lab's done with it.
SALLY: Because it’s evidence, Holmes, not a bloody trophy for your mantelpiece!
Sherlock makes no move to give it back. John is beginning to look decidedly worried.
SALLY (waspishly): And besides, last time I looked, trophies were for winners only.
John winces, and for a moment, Sherlock looks murderous. He takes a step towards Sally, raises the Messenger’s hat – and claps it right onto her mane of dark curls.
SHERLOCK (pointing at Sally but addressing John): John, photo. If she gets a new ringtone, I get a new wallpaper.
Sally Donovan yanks the hat off her head, and stares both of them out of her boss's office with a glare so ferocious that it would have put Anne Bonny and all her pirate sisters to shame.
Puzzle No. 7:
Who will the next victim be?
Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.
The written book will be brought forth,
In which all is contained,
From which the world shall be judged.
(Dies Irae, Verse 5)
INT. – 221B Baker Street - The Sitting Room - DAY
Saturday, 15 March 2014
Sherlock sits at the - surprisingly tidy - desk between the windows in the sitting room. Lined up on the table in front of him is an orderly row of ink bottles in various sizes, all shades of black and visibly full. A variety of fancy fountain pens, ranging from the elegant to the exquisite, are lined up like soldiers by his right hand. A neat stack of manila envelopes is piled to his left. A disorderly collection of scribbled-on envelopes has formed a sizeable mound on the floor to his right, and has begun to slide out toward the centre of the room. The original envelope in which Sherlock received the puzzle pointing him to Carmelite Street is propped up against a stack of books behind the bottles.
Sherlock squints at it and uses the pen in his hand to slowly copy the script in front of him. The pen slips in his ink-stained fingers, marring the copy. He pushes it roughly off the table, where it lands on top of the stack of discarded samples. He picks up another envelope and begins again. He's so focused on his task that he doesn’t notice, or perhaps doesn't care, that John Watson has walked through the open door of the flat.
John, noticing the stack of envelopes near his feet, picks up the topmost one, reads the half-finished inscription, and smiles.
JOHN: Don't tell me you’re teaching yourself calligraphy? Mary and I were just gonna get the wedding invitations printed.
Sherlock has moved onto the “Holmes” now, and still hasn’t looked up.
JOHN: The calligraphy. You sure that isn't a bit over the top?
Sherlock holds up the sample he has just created to the light, seemingly pleased with it.
SHERLOCK: Not at all. The chemical analysis alone was inconclusive. (With a sardonic smile) So needs must when the devil drives.
JOHN: Chemical analysis?
SHERLOCK (impatiently): For the case, John!
JOHN: Solving murders requires good penmanship now?
SHERLOCK: Very few things require good penmanship these days. Which begs the question, why would our Messenger give me an envelope addressed like this?
He flips the original envelope to John, who catches it deftly.
JOHN: He’s a serial killer with a penchant for Mozart and three-cornered hats. Is it so odd that he’d be a bit foppish about his handwriting, too?
SHERLOCK (nodding at the envelope in John's hand): This isn’t foppish writing, it isn’t even good calligraphy. It’s a hastily written scribble, but it's done in a fountain pen.
JOHN: Then why even bother?
SHERLOCK: Precisely. (He puts down his own pen and leans back in his chair.) What do we know about our Messenger, now? Demographically, I mean.
JOHN: The man from the car park? Assuming he was Count Walsegg, and not just a messenger for the Messenger– twenty-something, short, male, and blond. Like all the men whose alibis Sally Donovan is probably checking right now.
SHERLOCK: Yes. And how many male twenty-somethings happen to have a fountain pen sitting around? The pens and inks are expensive, you wouldn’t buy one just to scratch off an address.
JOHN (eyeing the rows of ink and pens on the table warily): How much did you spend on all this?
SHERLOCK (with a shrug): A hundred quid on the ink.
JOHN (picking up a particularly fancy-looking pen): And a few thousand on the pens?
SHERLOCK: No, those came free. (Seeing John's confusion, with a humourless grin) Donation to the cause from Mycroft. Been snatching them for years. He gets so cross when they go missing, but he refuses to admit I managed to pick-pocketed him, so he can never ask for them back.
JOHN: So our Messenger is just a posh git then?
SHERLOCK: Not sure. The writing’s all wrong, it’s oddly flat. (He picks up the pen he's been working with again, turning it in his inky fingers for a better look at the nib.) It seems our Messenger has a preference for an Esterbrook 2312 medium italic nib, which is -
JOHN (with a shrug): Sounds posh to me.
SHERLOCK (putting the pen down again, in a suddenly rather annoyed tone): John, I know your attention span isn't much above that of the average British adult male, but if you're not even interested in this, I'd thank you for not keeping me from it any longer. (Narrowing his eyes) What are you doing here today, anyway?
JOHN (now rather irritated in his turn): Oh, excuse me. I happened to be in the area, but if my presence is such a burden, I'll just pick up my book and go, shall I?
He stalks over to his armchair, and retrieves his biography of Napoleon Bonaparte from under a layer of clutter on the side table next to it.
SHERLOCK (without turning to look): Going to that Julius Caesar book signing then? Don't get Mycroft one.
JOHN (crossing his arms): Why not?
SHERLOCK: Because he hasn't had to queue for anything he wants in fifteen years. It would do him good to remember how it works.
JOHN (sarcastically): Oh, touching.
Sherlock shrugs and reaches for the next envelope. There is an uncomfortable silence, in which only the scratching of the pen can be heard. John turns the Napoleon biography in his hand, looking at it pensively.
JOHN (after a moment, obviously casting around for a less problematic subject): How did your appointment at the court go, by the way?
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder): Didn’t last long. They realised far too quickly that they had one usher too many that day. (Turning back to his work, grumpily) Lawyers. Can’t even trust them to be stupid.
JOHN: Justice Talbot still not talking to you then?
SHERLOCK (while writing, curtly): I don't want to talk, I want to see those files. (He waves his left hand dismissively.) Go on, off you go to that book signing of yours, or you'll be late.
Silence again. John, who doesn't even seem to have heard Sherlock's last words, is standing frozen to the spot, staring with wide eyes at the back cover of the book he's still holding.
JOHN (in a tense voice): Sherlock - I think you should come, too.
SHERLOCK (discarding another envelope): No, thank you.
JOHN: Professor Walker writes for the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
SHERLOCK (turning in his chair, with an air of impatient condescension): John, I know your middle-class upbringing makes you susceptible to the aura of erudition that surrounds academic merits and titles, but -
JOHN (cutting him off impatiently): No, no! The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Sherlock! An encyclopaedia! A book in which everything is contained, just like it says in the fifth verse of the Dies Irae!
SHERLOCK (dismissively): Oh, come on. It's not even a book any more, they stopped printing it in 2010.
JOHN: But Professor Walker is the perfect Dies Irae victim! Well-known in his field, well-respected, pillar of society and all that. And today he's presenting a new book he's written. "Liber scriptus proferetur." If that isn't Verse Five, I don't know what is! It makes more sense than that theory of yours about the accountants who were both out of town when Count Walsegg came visiting!
SHERLOCK: Then where's the message? Why hasn’t Count Walsegg contacted us this time?
JOHN: He got away by the skin of his teeth in Carmelite Street. Maybe he's being more careful now. Besides, a famous author is reading from his new book about Julius Caesar on March 15th - he was probably relying on you to figure that one out yourself. What better day for stabbing someone than on the Ides of March? Or have you deleted that, too?
SHERLOCK (in a rather cool tone): I know what the Ides of March are, John.
JOHN (sarcastically): Oh, of course. Should I warn the London abattoirs that you’ll be coming to update your collection of stab wound patterns, or something?
SHERLOCK: No need. They know I’m coming. (With a ghost of a grin) How did you know I keep a stab wound pattern collection?
JOHN (refusing to be distracted): I didn't know, and I don't care! (He brandishes the Napoleon book at his friend.) A man’s life may be on the line, Sherlock! Are you really going to sit here clinging to your theory that Verse Five is over, while Count Walsegg stabs a decent man to death not even a mile away? (Sherlock doesn't reply.) Well, are you?
When Sherlock still doesn't respond, John grips the book he's holding even harder, as if he has to bodily stop himself flinging it at his friend's head. But then he just huffs an irritated breath instead, and turns to the door.
JOHN: Alright. I'm going.
He starts marching towards the door when Sherlock finally speaks up behind his back.
SHERLOCK: Wait, I'm coming.
John turns back to him. Sherlock rises to his feet.
SHERLOCK: On one condition. (John raises a questioning eyebrow.) We don't tell Lestrade. I'm not letting them ruin another chance to finally meet Count Walsegg in person.
John opens his mouth to disagree, but then seems to think better of it.
JOHN (in a surprisingly compliant tone): Yeah, alright. He's still at home recovering, no point in making him get in a flap when there's nothing he can do.
Sherlock frowns for a moment at the unexpected lack of opposition, but John ignores it.
JOHN (checking his watch): Let's get a move on, then. The reading starts at two.
John pockets the Napoleon book while Sherlock wipes his inky fingers on a rag and finds his phone among the calligraphy equipment.
JOHN: By the way – I’m surprised you haven’t deleted Julius Caesar, if Napoleon was news to you.
SHERLOCK: Julius Caesar was a murder case, after all.
JOHN: Not much mystery there, though. The victim famously cried out his killer’s name when it happened. And Brutus and his accomplices went bragging about it afterwards.
SHERLOCK (drily): Well, small blame to him. An overbearing pseudo-father figure poking his nose into every aspect of your life is enough to make anyone feel murderous.
JOHN: Can I please have it in writing that that was a joke?
SHERLOCK: Certainly not. Besides, it isn’t the murder of Caesar itself that’s interesting, it’s Suetonius’s account of the state of the body. I’m told it’s the earliest known -
He breaks off suddenly and snaps his mouth shut, as if he was about to let on a secret.
JOHN: - earliest known what?
SHERLOCK (dismissively): Never mind, I’m babbling.
He walks over to where his coat and scarf hang behind the door.
JOHN (a little smugly): Well, let's see what else you'll pick up this afternoon.
SHERLOCK (grabbing his coat and swinging it over his shoulders as he heads down the stairs ahead of his friend): Nothing I won't delete straight away!
John sighs and hangs back as if to close the door behind them, but in fact furtively takes out his phone.
INT. - Daunt Books , Marylebone High Street, London – DAY
Sherlock and John enter the bookshop, the bell on the door jingling lightly as it shuts behind them. The ground floor of the shop is set up with a dozen rows of chairs facing a low stage at the back of the shop, with a narrow aisle separating the two sides of seating and shelves full of books lining both walls. Near the entrance, an impromptu coffee bar has been set up that offers refreshments to the customers. A young, bespectacled man in his early twenties is handing out coffee and other drinks. Most of the seats are already filled, with several more people standing and chatting near the open seats, with paper cups in their hands. Bright sunlight filters into the room through a large arched window at the back of the shop, behind the stage.
JOHN (surveying the scene): Damn, it’s packed.
The young man behind the coffee bar sees them hovering there, and helpfully points to some open seats along the railing on the first floor gallery of the shop.
YOUNG SHOP ASSISTANT: There’s still room upstairs.
Sherlock glances around, but acknowledges that they can’t get a seat closer to the stage without attracting attention, or even causing a scene. He and John climb the stairs to the gallery and push their way past several other patrons towards the back of the shop. They secure a spot on the railing just above the stage. Looking down, they can see that a wingback chair and small side table have been placed on the stage, along with a microphone. A hardback copy of Professor Walker’s new book, The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar, is on the side table.
SHERLOCK (his eyes on the stage below him): I hope you’re aware that this is a singularly unhelpful spot for keeping someone from attacking the good Professor with a knife. Though I suppose there are enough people down there to break our fall comfortably, should we feel compelled to jump.
JOHN: I told you he was a very popular author.
SHERLOCK: I still don’t understand why people want to hear someone read from a book they can read for themselves.
JOHN: There’s something to be said for being in the presence of a great mind.
SHERLOCK: Oh, is there?
JOHN: So long as they’re not being a giant arse, yeah.
At this moment, the manager of the bookshop, a tall woman with grey hair pulled back into a low bun steps onto the stage, followed by Professor Ernest P. Walker. He is a genial-looking man in his late sixties, with pure white hair combed back, and dressed in a black suit and open-collared white shirt. He sits down in the chair.
BOOKSELLER (into the microphone): Good afternoon, everyone. We at Daunt Books are so pleased to have you all join us for today’s reading of The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar by its esteemed author, Professor Ernest P. Walker. One of the world’s most respected military historians, Professor Walker has written best-selling analyses of the careers of Napoleon Bonaparte, Gengis Khan, and now Julius Caesar. Please welcome our guest, everyone!
The audience claps. Walker inclines his head politely in return. Sherlock leans forward on the wooden railing of the gallery, his chin propped up on his hand, scanning the audience below with his eyes. His fixes his gaze on a lady with long loose auburn hair wearing a short-sleeved black blouse, sitting in a chair directly adjoining the middle aisle, about half-way between the stage and the exit. He focuses on her face – the words “no make-up” float across his mind. When she raises a hand to flick back her hair, there’s a close-up of her hand – “trimmed fingernails”. The movement has exposed her ear - “no earrings”. As she lowers her arm again, Sherlock focuses on the clearly visible tan line on her upper arm, quite low down, almost at her elbow – “regulation short-sleeved uniform shirt.” Sherlock glances at John with a frown, but John’s eyes are on the stage, so he doesn’t notice.
BOOKSELLER: We’ll hear a chapter from Professor Walker’s latest work now, and then he’ll be happy to take questions from the audience. After that, you’ll get your chance to have your personal copy signed. And should you not yet have Walker’s complete works, we’re offering 15% off all of his titles in hardcover for the guests of today’s reading, because who wants a signed copy in paperback?
The crowd chuckles at the joke. The bookseller steps down from the stage and takes a seat that has been reserved for her in the front row. The Professor adjusts the microphone and now speaks into it in his turn. He has a very agreeable, deep voice that is almost mesmerising to listen to.
PROFESSOR WALKER: Well, thank you for your warm welcome. It’s always a joy to be here in this beautiful place. Not to keep you waiting any longer, let us begin. I know what bit you all want to hear, of course. (The audience chuckles again. Walker picks up his book, opens it where the page is marked, and begins to read.) “Events came to a head early in the year 44 BC. Caesar had been preparing to invade the Parthian Empire - a campaign later taken up by his successor, Marc Antony - and planned to leave for the East in the latter half of March. This forced a timetable onto the conspirators. On the Ides of March, the conspirators staged a game of gladiatorial sport at Pompey's theatre. They waited in the great hall of the theatre's quadriportico...“
The Professor’s voice recedes to a background drone as the reading progresses. Sherlock continues his close scrutiny of the rest of the audience. His eyes now come to rest on a man on the other side of the aisle, a tall, rather broad-shouldered man in a large-chequered blue and white shirt who looks less than enthusiastic about the whole event. He keeps stifling yawns and checking his watch. From time to time, he turns his head to look back towards the entrance of the shop, which reveals the back of his head to Sherlock. There’s a clearly visible thin line running all across it from one ear to the o ther, a long, narrow indentation in his hair. The words “uniform cap” float across Sherlock’s mind. He scowls.
T he next person he fixes on is just below him, in the front row - a short but burly and very fit-looking black man with a shaved head. But before the deductions can start rolling on this one, the Professor’s voice returns to the foreground.
PROFESSOR WALKER: Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times. He lay there lifeless for some time, and finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home. Suetonius relates that a physician performed an autopsy on the body later on, and established that only one wound - the second one to his chest that pierced his aorta - had been fatal. This account, though maybe not as reliable as the medically-minded among you could wish, is nevertheless remarkable for being the earliest known post-mortem report in history.
John, who has been listening attentively all the while, now turns towards Sherlock, his eyebrows raised in amused enquiry. Sherlock ignores him. The Professor closes his book, and the audience applauds again. The bookshop’s manager gets back up on the stage to shake the man’s hand and thank him for his reading.
SHERLOCK (to John, in a rather annoyed undertone): There are three police officers in the audience.
JOHN (innocently): They were all Donovan could spare, at such short notice.
SHERLOCK: Don’t tell me you’ve persuaded Walker to wear a stab vest under that atrociously ill-fitting suit, too.
JOHN (gloomily): I just hope we won’t wish we had.
Meanwhile, the young man from the coffee bar has made his way along the isle, carrying a small tray with a steaming cup of coffee (made of real china, this one), with a spoon and a little sachet of sugar on the saucer. Both Sherlock and John tense visibly as the young man ascends the stage and approaches the Professor. But he only puts the coffee down on the small side table next to the Professor’s chair, and retreats again. Walker nods thank you to him. Sherlock and John relax.
BOOKSELLER (into the microphone): Professor Walker will take questions from the audience now.
In the right hand part of front row, an elderly, rather bookish-looking man with wispy white hair and reading glasses perched precariously on the tip of his nose stands up. In the gallery, Sherlock and John simultaneously straighten up in alarm. But when the man doesn’t approach the stage, they lean back again.
ELDERLY MAN: Professor, how would you evaluate the role that Marc Antony played in the aftermath of the assassination of Caesar, in relation to the...
While the elderly man carefully composes a sentence that seems to never end, Walker tears open the sachet, empties the sugar into his cup and begins to stir.
ELDERLY MAN: ... and how, if yes, did it influence the outcome of the Parthian Wars?
PROFESSOR WALKER (in a rather kindly, if slightly distracted tone): I discuss this question in some detail in the appendices, and I wouldn’t like to tax anyone’s patience too much...
He trails off and stirs his coffee more vigorously than before, frowning into it.
JOHN (to Sherlock, in an amused whisper): Look, he’s trying to prove your theory.
SHERLOCK (distractedly): What theory?
JOHN: How strongly you have to stir your drink to make it go hotter rather than colder.
SHERLOCK (suddenly tense again, his eyes fixed on the Professor): No. Something’s not right.
JOHN: I’d frown, too, if I was given cold coffee.
SHERLOCK: It isn’t cold, it was still steaming a moment ag - (His head snaps around towards John, eyes wide.) John, downstairs, quickly!
JOHN: What? Why?
The people seated next to Sherlock and John are beginning to look around at them in annoyance.
SHERLOCK (grabbing his friend’s arm, with great urgency): There’s something in his coffee. He’s being poisoned. Go! (He jumps up from his seat and gives John a push in the direction of the staircase. Then without waiting to see whether John obliges, he leans over the railing and shouts down loudly.) Professor Walker - don’t drink that coffee!
Now all heads on the ground floor turn towards Sherlock, too.
PROFESSOR WALKER (calmly): Why ever not?
SHERLOCK: Someone‘s trying to poison you!
The audience starts murmuring, some of them shaking their heads, some laughing openly. Meanwhile, John has hastily made his way back to the staircase leading down the gallery.
PROFESSOR WALKER (to Sherlock, amused): You’ve got the wrong Caesar, sir. Drusus Julius Caesar was the one that was poisoned, or have you not got to the appendices yet, either?
The crowd chuckles as Walker raises his cup to Sherlock in a mock toast.
SHERLOCK: For God’s sake, don’t -
He glances around hastily for where John is now. Just then John, who has started pushing his way through the crowd downstairs, bellows a warning of his own. At the same moment, the burly black man on the left hand side of the front row jumps up abruptly and takes a quick step towards the stage. But too late. Walker puts the cup to his lips and drinks. Sherlock grimaces, and curses under his breath. The room is frozen in utter stillness for a moment. Then -
PROFESSOR WALKER (lightly): A little bitter, but I shall live to write another day.
The crowd laughs again, relieved. The black policeman even makes a move as if to sit back down. John hesitates, undecided. But then Walker’s hand suddenly comes up to his throat and clutches it. He begins to choke. The coffee cup he was still holding hits the floor and shatters as Walker gulps for air, his contorted face a grimace of sheer panic. A moment later, he collapses, first onto his knees, and then onto his face. A collective scream rises from the horrified audience. Everybody is suddenly on their feet, blocking John’s way.
JOHN: Move! I’m a doctor, move!
He pushes recklessly through the onlookers. Sherlock takes a quick look at the floor below him and then flings himself over the railing, hanging from it for a moment before dropping on the ground close to the stage. He clambers onto it and reaches Walker at exactly the same time as John and the black policeman. They turn Walker onto his back. The man’s face is convulsing in his desperate gasps for breath, turning purple and then blue while his eyes roll around wildly in his head.
JOHN: Someone call 999, quickly!
The policeman has already got his phone at his ear.
JOHN (to the policeman): Suspected poisoning with respiratory arrest.
The policeman nods, but even as he begins to speak into the phone, Professor Walker goes limp, and his eyes close.
JOHN (under his breath): Shit.
He lowers the now unresponsive body back to the floor, feels for a pulse, and begins to perform chest compressions. Sherlock rises back to his feet and scans the crowd as if for a three-cornered hat rising out of its midst, but in their panic the crowd is pushing their way back from the stage towards the exit now – everyone except for the bookshop’s manager, who’s standing there numb with shock, and the two other police officers, who are trying to make their way towards the stage, against the tide. Sherlock makes a grab for the microphone, and his voice fills the shop, firm and authoritative.
SHERLOCK: Close the doors. Nobody leave. Everyone to the front of the shop, stay there, and leave a lane for the medics. Nobody touch the coffee bar or anything on it.
He catches the policewoman’s eye. She nods, and heads off in the opposite direction to see the order carried out. Her colleague in the blue-and-white shirt follows. As they pass to the front of the shop, they can be heard repeating the instructions to the terrified customers, taking charge of the situation with professional calm and efficiency.
BLACK POLICEMAN (to John): Ambulance and reinforcements are on their way, sir. (To Sherlock, apologetically) We were told to watch out for someone with a knife.
SHERLOCK (bitterly): I know. (He nods at the fire exit door to the side of the stage.) Guard that.
The policeman nods and departs. Sherlock looks down at how John and the Professor are doing. John is still busy pushing rhythmically on Walker’s chest. But Walker remains utterly still. Sherlock puts a hand on John’s shoulder.
SHERLOCK: You can stop that now, John. It’s no use.
JOHN (distractedly, still pushing): What?
SHERLOCK (quietly): It’s cyanide, John, I can smell it from here. Bonds to the haemoglobin, remember? No oxygen in the blood - no point in trying to keep the heart pumping.
JOHN (continuing the CPR): You let me do my job, go and do yours! (He glances up shortly, his sweaty face flushed with both effort and anger.) Catch that bloody bastard, for Christ’s sake! Hasn’t he done enough damage by now?
John puts his head back down and continues to push rhythmically. Sherlock watches his friend's futile efforts for a moment longer, his brows knitting together. Then he turns away and begins to thread his way between the once orderly rows of chairs now scattered helter-skelter across the floor.
UPDATE October 2016: Though we didn't know it when we wrote it, it seems Mr. Cumberbatch has good taste in bookshops:
INT. – 221 Baker Street - The Hall – DUSK
Sherlock flings open the door from the street into the hall of 221 Baker Street, and begins to yank his scarf off as he marches upstairs. John follows, no less agitated than his friend.
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder): Walker was never going to be stabbed, John! Long distance strikes are what Count Walsegg excels at. What on earth gave you the idea that he would just walk into the shop and put a knife into the Professor, in front of a hundred witnesses and with no hope of getting away? (He snorts and turns around, halfway up the staircase.) Preposterous.
JOHN (irritably, slamming the hall door shut behind him): Well, if you ask Greg, he’d have something to say about long distance! If he bashes people’s noses in, why shouldn’t he be knifing them, too? And may I remind you that we wouldn't even have been there, if it hadn't been for my preposterous idea that Professor Walker would be the next victim?
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): And a fat lot of good it did him, us being there!
He continues his journey up the stairs while John flushes with anger, deeply hurt.
JOHN (calling after him): There's only so much you can do about a whole cupful of cyanide, you know! (He starts ascending the stairs, too.) And besides, who says Count Walsegg would have struck at all if you hadn't been there to watch?
Sherlock, who has reached the first floor landing, stops in the doorway to 221B and chews the insides of his cheeks furiously for a moment, as if deliberating a particularly biting retort to the implied reproach. But then he swallows it down, and answers in an unexpectedly calm voice.
SHERLOCK: We know that he would have.
He walks on into the sitting room, deposits his coat and scarf on the sofa and stands staring at the Wall of Evidence. John follows him into the room, carrying his copy of Walker’s Napoleon biography. But he makes no motion to remove his jacket or sit down.
JOHN: What do you mean, we know?
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder): The young bookworm in charge of the coffee bar told us as much. He said that the extra tray with the cup and sugar for the Professor was brought in by a man who pretended to be from the catering firm, a full hour before the reading started.
JOHN (peevishly): When you were still here, practising calligraphy and waiting for Verse Six.
SHERLOCK (coolly): Exactly. (He turns on his heel to face John.) You do realise what that means, don’t you?
JOHN: That Count Walsegg's a reckless murderous bastard who doesn't care who's out to stop him?
SHERLOCK: That Count Walsegg will kill no matter whether I'm there or not.
JOHN: Only you would take that as a personal insult.
SHERLOCK: I thought you’d be pleased. I’m not nearly as important to him as you seem to think.
MYCROFT’S VOICE (off screen): You wouldn’t mind lending me a hand, would you?
In the open door stands Mycroft Holmes, balancing a cardboard box filled with official-looking files in both arms. When neither Sherlock nor John jump to relieve him of his burden – John clearly out of sheer surprise at his sudden appearance, Sherlock probably out of sheer bloody-mindedness - he walks straight across the room to the desk, and deposits his load on the only free corner. Straightening up again, he glances over the desk, where the impressive collection of fountain pens is still sitting in plain view. He smiles humourlessly.
MYCROFT: Ah, look at all those old friends of mine. (He turns to face Sherlock. With biting irony) I'm always glad to be of assistance, you know. No need to ask.
SHERLOCK (evenly): I need to keep the blue one.
MYCROFT (leaning across for a better look, still in the same mock-generous tone): The one with the scratchy nib? By all means, I never liked that one anyway.
SHERLOCK: That's because you don't know what to do with it.
MYCROFT (gesturing at the cardboard box): I hope you know what to do with those. (Sternly) No dog ears, no coffee stains, and everything ready to be collected again at seven sharp on Monday morning.
John joins Mycroft at the desk and peers into the box.
JOHN (to Mycroft, surprised): You got him Justice Talbot's files?
MYCROFT (with a disapproving look at his brother): Yes. It was bad enough that he was caught snooping around at the Royal Courts of Justice. And the inevitable next step would have been trying to make his way secretly into Talbot's private home. I concluded to that my brother getting caught secretly investigating a High Court judge would unbalance the political equilibrium in this country to a degree that could not possibly be justified by the end in view.
JOHN (sarcastically): Oh, you know, Sherlock's only trying to catch a mad serial killer.
MYCROFT (without the slightest hint of irony): Exactly.
SHERLOCK (to John): You weren't suspecting Mycroft of simply being sentimental about the death of his favourite historian, were you?
MYCROFT (checking his pocket watch with an air of impatience): Can we get down to business now, please?
Sherlock shrugs, as if to say "if we must".
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, as if he’s continuing a previously interrupted conversation): I told you we'd be looking for possible chinks in their armour. We may have found one. The Bankhaus König is privately owned, so their books aren't open to public scrutiny. But it looks as if they're not doing at all well these days.
SHERLOCK: How do you know?
MYCROFT: König have always prided themselves on being patrons of the arts, but it appears that they're trying to back out of their long-standing sponsorship agreement with the Zurich Opera House now, even though the director is married to one of their former prima donnas. They've also cut back on their scholarships for gifted young artists. So they'll very likely welcome any potential new customer who brings them fresh capital with open arms. (He digs a slim folder out of the box.) In case you're planning to pose as one, this is your legend.
He hands the folder to Sherlock, who opens it, glances over the contents, and nods.
John, who has followed Mycroft's monologue with an expression of increasing bewilderment, now turns to Sherlock.
JOHN: You're taking the Swiss bank case after all? The one about the tax evaders?
SHERLOCK (curtly): Yes.
JOHN: Now? With Count Walsegg still on the loose, and getting more dangerous every day?
SHERLOCK: Everything comes at a price, John. (Nodding at the box with the court files, with a lopsided grin) Those files are my thirty pieces of silver, to stay with the biblical imagery.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, with a very thin-lipped smile): Make sure you earn them. How you think you can crack this nut in three days, when we've failed to find a way for weeks on end, is beyond me. But feel free to surprise me.
JOHN: Three days?
MYCROFT: I've just received a very kind invitation from the bank's director, in my capacity as a senior official from HM Revenue and Customs, to a musical soiree at the Swiss Embassy on Tuesday evening that König are sponsoring. (To Sherlock) If I go, he and I will hardly manage to avoid each other.
SHERLOCK (smugly): And if you don't go, you're admitting defeat. Elegant. Don't you love a good dilemma like that?
Mycroft glares at his brother, but then squares his shoulders as if to make ready to leave.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock): I'm expecting to hear from you before Tuesday. (In a rather patronising tone) Do get your priorities right now, will you?
Sherlock scowls. But the moment Mycroft is gone, he carelessly drops the folder Mycroft handed him onto the coffee table. It lands messily, emitting what looks like a British passport and some papers like bank statements. They flutter to the floor, unheeded. Sherlock is already elbows deep in the box of Judge Talbot's files, digging out one volume after the other almost greedily. He shoves the collection of pens and envelopes roughly to the side and begins stacking the files on the desk. He glances at each cover, then picks up one folder and carries it over to his armchair with every intention of making himself comfortable there. John stares at him with his mouth open.
JOHN: You can't be serious! (Gesturing at the now ruined impromptu calligraphy workshop on the desk) You spent all morning writing envelopes as if there was nothing more important in the world, and now it suddenly doesn’t matter anymore? What about the four blond young men who work at Jameson and Watt? Shouldn’t we be out there helping the Met check their alibis? We actually saw Count Walsegg in person, back in Carmelite Street, but we’ve made exactly zero progress identifying him!
SHERLOCK (settling himself into his chair with the folder on his lap): I wouldn’t say that. I’m fairly sure who the Messenger is now.
JOHN (taken aback): What?
SHERLOCK: You didn’t want to listen, but I did tell you, before we went to the bookshop, that he owns a fountain pen with an Esterbrook 2312 medium italic nib.
JOHN: Great. So what?
SHERLOCK: Those nibs aren’t generally used for everyday writing. But they’re very commonly utilised in musical notation.
JOHN: We already know he can write music.
Sherlock stretches out a long arm to point at the Wall of Evidence above the sofa, where the musical code that sent them to the Natural History Museum is pinned next to the newspaper article reporting the dinosaur’s collapse.
SHERLOCK: Look at it. He knows how, but he’s not an expert. The notes are imprecise, they don’t quite flow yet.
John hesitates for a moment, but then walks up to the Wall and plucks the musical code off it to study it closely.
SHERLOCK: Music student. What amateur musician would bother with an expensive fountain pen, if a biro or a pencil would do just as well? But most professionals still insist that their students learn that craft properly.
JOHN: But there’s a half-dozen universities with classical music programmes in London alone.
SHERLOCK: Five, to be precise: City University, London Conducting Academy, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, and Trinity Laban. And I suspect that one of them is missing a tri-cornered hat from their costume department right now.
JOHN (back in his former impatient tone): Then why aren’t we out checking those?
SHERLOCK: Good luck getting into any of them on a Saturday.
He flips the file open.
JOHN: With that, and the physical description, and the fact that he’s a foreigner, the Met could probably narrow it down to a handful of people!
SHERLOCK (evenly): I’m sure they can.
JOHN (indignantly): We could end this now! But here you’re sitting and not even sharing your deductions with them! Jesus Christ, Sherlock, I think I know why we’re not getting anywhere!
SHERLOCK: I know what we’re getting to next, and that’s Verse Six. “Judex ergo cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebit. Nil inultum remanebit. When therefore the Judge will sit, whatever hides will appear. Nothing will remain unpunished.” Don’t you find that prospect encouraging?
JOHN: Oh, now you’re just waiting for the solution to fall into your lap at Talbot's hearing, are you?
SHERLOCK (pointedly): No, I’m trying to read approximately four thousand pages of court files before Monday morning.
He ostentatiously begins to read. John makes a wordless noise of badly suppressed anger.
JOHN: You’re not even admitting the possibility that you’re on the wrong track about the judge, are you? Just because he poked fun at your methods, he has to be the secret criminal mastermind behind all this!
SHERLOCK (not looking up, in a bored tone): If you’re saying that I’m letting my judgement be clouded by emotion, I suggest you put your own house in order first, John.
JOHN (working himself into quite a rage): But that's absolute nonsense! That “accident” could have killed him!
SHERLOCK (turning a page): Well, it didn’t. What cleverer way to throw us off the scent than posing as a victim himself?
JOHN: That man in the car park at Carmelite Street definitely wasn’t a sixty-something judge with a broken collarbone!
SHERLOCK: And the brawny bloke with the shaved head who brought the deadly coffee tray into Daunt Books today wasn’t a sixty-something judge with a broken collarbone, either. (Looking up again) Criminal masterminds don’t lack foot soldiers, John. I just spent two years away from home to prove that.
JOHN: But what do we have on Talbot? Nothing!
SHERLOCK (curtly): He’s refusing to collaborate.
JOHN: You mean he doesn’t like the idea of a self-appointed unofficial investigator prying into his life and work? (Sherlock frowns.) He’s not your client, remember, he’s under no obligation to let you. You may have little idea what that word means, but some people simply value their privacy!
Sherlock shrugs and resumes his reading. After a moment of hesitation, John walks over to where Sherlock is sitting and drops Walker’s book in his lap, back cover up, with the dead professor’s photo and biography displayed.
JOHN: Read that.
Sherlock glances at the face on the back cover, and turns it over quickly.
SHERLOCK: It doesn’t mean anything now.
JOHN: Doesn’t mean -- ? He was a good man, and now he’s dead!
SHERLOCK (in a dismissive tone): The Hedlunds, Cunningham, they were good people, too, John. How’s Walker different? Just because you liked a book he wrote?
JOHN: Because he died under my hands. That’s why, Sherlock! (His hands curl into fists.) The boy at the museum was bad enough, but at least he's alive. But to watch someone die, helpless to stop it happening, that doesn’t get any easier, you know! That’s the one thing I have seen too much of.
There is a silence. Sherlock makes no move to respond.
JOHN: That affects people, Sherlock! (Frustrated) But you wouldn’t understand that, of course.
Sherlock calmly places the book on the arm of his chair and returns his gaze to the file in his hands.
SHERLOCK (in a flat voice): No, I wouldn’t understand, would I?
JOHN (exasperated): Have you ever actually considered trying?
Sherlock looks up again sharply. His eyes narrow.
SHERLOCK (scathingly): John, if you’re concerned about your usual coping mechanisms failing you on this occasion, you might want to consider dropping out of the case and consulting your therapist, rather than regaling me with an account of your sensitivities. It’s really not helpful.
John gapes at his friend in disbelief, then puffs out a loud breath.
He turns on his heel and walks straight out of the room. The door closes behind him - not with a huffy bang, but with a determined and very final click.
SHERLOCK (calling after him loudly): You forgot your book!
But John can already be heard walking quickly down the stairs. A moment later, the front door closes. Sherlock presses his lips together into a thin line. Then suddenly, he grabs Walker’s book and, with a snarl, flings it with full force at John’s armchair. It bounces off the Union Jack cushion placed there, and lands messily on the floor, with both covers up and the pages crushed underneath. Sherlock digs both his hands into his hair and squeezes his eyes shut in a grimace of almost physical pain.
There is the sudden buzz of a phone. Sherlock’s head snaps up, and the bleak expression on his face changes immediately to one of hopeful expectation. He jumps out of his chair, rushes over to the sofa, and pulls the phone out of his coat pocket.
It’s only a calendar alert.
J.P Franklin & Sons Butchers, Enfield– 30 Minutes
Traffic is heavy, leave now to arrive on time.
Sherlock deletes the alert with an angry swipe of his thumb, then looks over at the desk and from there at the wall above it. He strides over purposefully and pulls the headphones down off the bison skull, then retrieves the court file from where he’s dropped it on the floor. He sits down cross-legged in his armchair and spreads the file open on his lap while the Dies Irae from Mozart’s Requiem begins to thunder in his ears.
INT. – The Watson’s home – The Bedroom - NIGHT
John’s in REM sleep, his eyes darting back and forth under his closed lids, a sheen of sweat of his forehead. Mary is sleeping next to him. She wakes as his body begins to twitch. She rolls over, looks at his body struggling and reaches a hand out toward him, but she doesn’t touch him, her hand hovering hesitantly above his.
MARY (very quietly): John?
John’s body shifts again in his sleep, and Mary is just about to draw her hand back, when he suddenly gasps and sits up in bed, calling out some unintelligible words that could equally be a foreign language, or just sleepy gibberish.
MARY (deeply disconcerted, a little louder than before): John?
John opens his eyes, looking a little disoriented for a moment. Then his eyes focus on Mary, and he steadies himself.
JOHN: Yeah, no. It’s fine. Sorry I woke you. (He scrubs his hand across his sweaty face.) Go back to sleep. I'm fine.
Seeing Mary's sceptical look, he presses a gentle but slightly distracted kiss on her forehead, then swings his legs over the edge of the bed and walks into the en-suite bathroom for a drink of water. Mary settles back down, pulling the covers over herself. But her eyes remain open, and she’s still looking decidedly worried.
INT. – 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room – DAY
Monday, 17 March 2014
The quiet of an early morning. Outside, it’s already light, but the room itself is still in shadow. It looks much like it did on Saturday evening, with the calligraphy equipment still cluttered across the desk, and the carpet still strewn with Sherlock’s attempts at imitating the Grey Messenger’s handwriting. The Wall of Evidence above the sofa has been updated to include a picture of the deceased Professor Walker. Mycroft’s box of files is still there on the desk, too, but it has been repacked very neatly, ready to be returned.
Nothing moves in the room, but there is a tinny, small sound of orchestral music on the air, remote and thin. A moment later, it is drowned out by the footsteps of more than one person on the stairs outside the closed door, followed by a tentative knock.
MRS HUDSON’S VOICE (off-screen): Sherlock?
The door opens, and Mrs Hudson peeks inside, drawing a flower-print dressing gown closer around her nightshirted person.
MRS HUDSON: Sherlock? The gentleman here says he’s come to–
Behind her looms a tall, broad-shouldered man in a well-fitting suit, dark of hair and skin and with a very accurately clipped beard – Mr Plummer, the same who came here to pick Sherlock up for a trip to Buckingham Palace, years before. Receiving no answer, Mrs Hudson opens the door wide to let them both inside. She looks around for the room’s usual occupant – and gasps.
Sprawled across the rug in front of the fireplace, between the two armchairs, Sherlock is lying on his front, eyes closed, limp and unmoving. By his right hand lies a small mound of small, torn pieces of glossy foil. Half buried beneath him is a large tome of sheet music. Beside his head lie the headphones that must have slipped off – the source of the eerie music, Mozart’s Requiem still running on repeat.
Mrs Hudson rushes to Sherlock’s side, highly alarmed. Plummer follows on her heels, no less disquieted. But on closer inspection, it becomes clear that Sherlock is neither dead nor hurt nor drugged - only deep asleep in complete and utter exhaustion. He’s breathing slowly and regularly. Crumbs from what must have been a veritable sweets and biscuits binge litter the carpet all around the empty wrappers, and some are even still clinging to his half-open lips. Plummer leans down with his head cocked to one side for a better look at the musical tome Sherlock is lying on.
PLUMMER (in an undertone): Is he looking for clues in the orchestral score now?
Mrs Hudson shakes her head sadly, her eyes on Sherlock’s pale face.
MRS HUDSON: Poor boy.
She tip-toes over to John’s chair and picks up the Union Jack cushion, then squats down and gently lifts up Sherlock’s lolling head to pillow it more comfortably. Then she hands the headphones to Plummer, requesting him with an imploring look to switch off the music, which he does. She then moves on to close the curtains against the rising sun, and finally holds the door open for the visitor to pass back through, carrying the box with Justice Talbot’s files. The door closes softly behind them.
Sherlock sleeps on.
221B photo by Jolie_Black
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.
When therefore the Judge will sit,
Whatever hides will appear.
Nothing will remain unpunished.
(Dies Irae, Verse 6)
Monday, 17 March 2014
INT. - Royal Courts of Justice, London – Courtroom – DAY
In one of the smaller courtrooms used by the High Court of Justice for their hearings, the Hon. Mr Justice Talbot, with no more visible marks of his accident on him, is presiding over the case of Fornitori Automobilistici Tosca versus Jaguar Land Rover in his full red-gowned and white-wigged glory. Vis-à-vis of the bench, representatives of both parties in the lawsuit have taken up their stations. They are all men in business suits, distinguishable from each other only because one group, all dark-haired, is dressed remarkably more elegantly than the other. Each group is accompanied by a barrister in the distinctive attire of their profession. All of them only have eyes for their files and their laptops in front of them, listening and reading along in respectful silence while the judge expounds their case. At the back of the room, two rows of chairs have been set up for the audience. This part of the room is entirely empty except for Sherlock, who sits in the last chair of the back row with his coat still on, his arms wrapped around him, still looking a bit pale and drawn. His eyes are on the coat of arms displayed on the wall above the judge's head, while the voice of the judge drones on and on.
JUDGE TALBOT (turning a page in his file): Let us now come to the expert opinion of the Department of Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan, as presented by the applicants, on the technical standards generally required for the materials used in the manufacturing of windscreen washer fluid pipes for off-road vehicles...
Sherlock raises his eyes to the ceiling, repressing a long-suffering sigh.
INT. - John's Surgery - The Reception Area - DUSK
The clock on the wall above the reception desk is at shortly after five. John and Mary are in the process of wrapping up work for the day. John is pulling on his jacket. Mary has been straightening the chairs and tidying up in the waiting area. She now returns to the reception desk, carrying a discarded newspaper.
MARY (gesturing with the newspaper): D'you want to keep it, or shall I bin it?
JOHN (puzzled): Keep what?
MARY: The article.
JOHN: What article?
MARY (with a laugh): Oh come on, John. You know your secrets are safe with me.
JOHN (frowning): What secr-
He breaks off, as if seized by a sudden premonition, and takes the newspaper - it's one of the tabloids - from Mary. He unfolds it and glances over the huge headline.
JOHN: Bloody hell. Anderson went to the press with that rubbish? And they're printing it? (He looks back over the article, and snorts.) "Well-informed and reliable", can they really be as naive as that?
MARY (with a wry smile): John, are you as naive as that? That source of theirs wasn't Anderson.
JOHN (confused): What? Who else would -
MARY: Look at her name.
JOHN (looking down again): God. Kitty Riley?
MARY: She's been used before. Maybe she's being used again.
JOHN (incredulously): By militant Catholics this time?
MARY (with a laugh): Oh, of course not! By Sherlock, who else? (Seeing John's confusion, she puts a hand on his arm. Quietly) I'm sorry, John. I thought you were in on it.
JOHN (shaking his head): No. (A little bitterly) Whatever "it" exactly is.
MARY: I'd say he's testing a theory. Trying to draw them out. Maybe he thought it was time he sent them a little coded message of his own.
John holds up the paper.
JOHN: Not much code in that, is there, if it's true? (Angrily) He's painted a target on his back for them once already, how many more times does he think they're gonna miss? He's not gonna make it anywhere even near the Lacrimosa, if he goes on like this!
As if on cue, the phone in his pocket starts ringing. He takes it out and checks the screen.
MARY (in a hopeful tone): Sherlock?
JOHN (puzzled): No. Sally Donovan. (He takes the call. Into the phone) Yes? Sally?
At the other end of the line, there is a silence. John frowns. Mary looks on anxiously.
YOUNG MAN’S VOICE (over the phone): Doctor Watson? (The voice sounds very worried, somewhat out of breath, and vaguely familiar.) Erm, it's Raz. Remember? Raz? From the case with the Chinese number code?
EXT. - Alley - NIGHT
Raz, the graffiti artist whom John first met on the case of the Blind Banker, years ago, is standing in a dark alley somewhere in London, a phone at his ear, pale and sweating in a spot of clinical bright light from an unseen source nearby.
RAZ (into the phone): I, erm - I'm in trouble. (He glances nervously over his shoulder. When John, on the other end of the line, remains silent, his voice takes on a decided note of panic.) I - I need your help, I don't know what to do, I swear it wasn't me, I just -
JOHN’S VOICE (over the phone, sternly): Why are you using a policewoman's phone?
RAZ: What? Oh, she let me, I’ve got no credit on mine.
He looks over his shoulder again, and this time, the person standing there comes into view. It is indeed Sally Donovan, arms crossed and looking impatient, presiding over what appears to be a new crime scene, already taped off and lit by portable lights. There are several more police officers milling around in the background, and two uniformed ones standing close behind Raz like a pair of guards.
RAZ (into the phone, in a pleading tone): Can you come? Please? I tried to call Sherlock, but he isn't answering. (In a tone of pure despair, close to tears now) I don't know what to do! They think I did it, but I don't even have a -
JOHN’S VOICE (over the phone, curtly): Where are you, and what happened?
RAZ (hoarsely): Someone's dead.
EXT. - Side street, Marylebone, London - NIGHT
In one of the side streets off Gloucester Place in Marylebone, the mouth of a narrow alley has been closed off. A uniformed policewoman stands guard to ward off curious onlookers, but there are only a handful of them gathered there under the faint light of a street lamp. An ambulance is also parked nearby, its back doors open. It's a quiet area, with barely any shops or restaurants except for a kebab shop at the far end of the street, and no through-going traffic - so quiet that the arrival of a new person on the scene, and in a cab at that, is enough to make everybody's head turn.
John Watson steps out of the cab at a little distance from the scene and covers the remaining yards on foot. At the brick archway leading into the alley, he gives his name to the officer on duty, and is immediately cleared to pass. He steps through the archway, onto the crime scene itself.
The alley is the backyard of an adjoining residential street - dark, windowless, graffiti-covered brick walls on either side, an occasional garage door, but utterly devoid of life, except for the corner immediately to the left of the archway as one steps through. This is where the dramatis personae of the scene are gathered: Sally Donovan, Raz the graffiti kid and his guard of two, and now also a forensics team in disposable coveralls who seem to have arrived in the meantime, busy setting up their equipment. And on the ground in their midst, the unmoving body of a young man, in jeans, trainers and a dark jacket, with short straw-coloured hair, lying on his side with one arm flung out in a dark pool of blood.
John walks up to them and then halts at a respectful distance, as if not to obtrude - whether on the rest of the dead man or on the work of the police is unclear, and maybe of secondary importance. He looks down intently at the young man's face, half hidden under his arm. Then he meets Sally Donovan's eyes.
JOHN (quietly): Well, what happened?
SALLY (jerking her chin at Raz, snappishly): You tell us, young man.
RAZ (resentfully): I told you, it wasn't me! I stumbled over him, it wasn't my fault, I was only walking through here -
SALLY (to John, nodding at the threadbare sports bag on the ground at Raz’s feet): - with a bag chock-full of spray cans -
RAZ (glaring at her): Not a crime, is it? (To John) See, they're not listening!
JOHN (rather coolly): Well, let's hear your story.
RAZ: As I said, it was getting dark, I just stumbled over him. I yelled, I think, I was so shocked. (To Sally) That's what the men from the kebab shop heard, not a death scream or anything, just me going "ah, fuck", or whatever it was I said!
JOHN (to Sally): So, just to get this right - Raz is under arrest for killing this man?
SALLY: Yes. Probably got interrupted in some great new art project.
JOHN (to Raz): So they told you to call a solicitor, and you called Sherlock instead?
SALLY: We told him to call his parents!
RAZ (deeply offended): I’m twenty-four, ma’am! (To John) But I didn't do it! I don't carry a knife! (He holds out his arms on either side.) Haven't got one on me now, have I?
JOHN (looking down at the dead body, and at the pool of blood on the ground): Was it a knife?
SALLY: I don't know. We haven't moved him yet, only enough for the medics to make sure he really was beyond help. But the men from the kebab shop heard nothing, except that one shout. (In response to John's questioning look) We're taking their statements right now. They were smoking outside the shop down the street when this one came along babbling about a dead body in here. (In a tone of satisfaction) We've got to thank them for persuading this slippery fish to stay on the scene until we arrived.
RAZ (pulling his jacket and his dignity about him): I had no credit on my phone! I went to them so they could get help, alright?
JOHN (to Sally): Anything to identify him?
SALLY: No wallet in his jacket, but - (nodding at the canvas shoulder bag lying half-buried under the body) - we haven't gone through all of his things yet.
Moving closer to the body for a better look, John's eyes fix on a mobile phone lying by the dead man's blood-stained hand.
JOHN (under his breath): Curious...
SALLY: In good news, he's obviously not Sherlock Holmes.
JOHN (drily): No, if this was meant for him, they missed Baker Street by a couple of hundred yards.
He stalls, then does a double take at Sally Donovan's face, as if he can't quite believe what she's just said, and that she might have meant it seriously. But Sally has turned away to collect a pair of nitrile gloves from the forensics team.
SALLY (handing John the gloves and gesturing at the dead body): Well, go ahead, if you like. If His Royal Highness isn't interested, we might as well get started, don't you think?
John nods. Sally Donovan takes a step backwards to make room, her shoulders brushing against the brick wall behind her.
RAZ (to Sally): Careful, ma'am, or you'll have paint on your back.
She turns to look behind her at the graffiti-sprayed wall, then carefully touches her fingertips to one of the big yellow letters that form the topmost layer. They come away smeared with paint. She holds her hand out for John to see.
SALLY (puzzled): It's still fresh.
RAZ (dismissively): 'Course it's still fresh! I only put it there half an hour ago.
JOHN and SALLY (simultaneously): You what?
SALLY (in a tone of disgusted disbelief): You stood here smearing the wall with your pointless scribbling while there was a man dying next to you?
RAZ (sincerely): I think he was already dead then.
JOHN (angrily): You think? You think? Ever heard what to do when you find someone bleeding and unconscious?
RAZ (defensively): I had to be quick, I didn't want to forget it! I thought it might be important! I'm not brilliant with remembering stuff, and I didn't have a pen on me, so - (pointing at the letters on the wall) - that's why I put it there!
SALLY (impatiently): "It"? What, "it"?
RAZ (sullenly, with a nod at the dead man): What he'd typed on his phone. I only saw it for a moment before the screen went dark and it locked itself, but I copied it word for word. (To John) I did run for an ambulance right afterwards!
Sally walks around the body again to get a better view of the messy yellow letters. They read
JOHN (to Raz): Well? What does it mean?
RAZ (with a scowl): No idea. You're the detectives.
John walks over to stand next to Sally. They contemplate the writing on the wall in silence for a moment.
SALLY (enouncing the words slowly): Urban - beat - sig. (She shakes her head.) Makes me think of... electronic music, or something. (With a faint smile) Not of Mozart, though.
JOHN: No, but it's another code. (Grimly) And that means this is a case for Sherlock now, whether he wants it or not.
He takes out his phone.
SALLY (irritated): Oh, don't bother. He's not even interested any more in the one he's signed up for.
JOHN: What do you mean?
SALLY: I've texted him updates about Count Walsegg all day, but never got a single response. Where is he, on holiday?
JOHN: At court. Talbot's hearing.
SALLY (with a shrug): Well, we can't just leave the body lying here forever. We need to start processing the scene.
JOHN: Yeah, I know. Go ahead. (He takes a picture of the graffiti on his phone and then starts typing on it, turning away as if to depart.) I'll tell him to meet me at the morgue.
SALLY: Hang on. (She nods at Raz.) You know we can only hold him for twenty-four hours. Do we charge him, or what?
John looks long and hard at Raz, who stands there dwarfed by his guards, looking very young and very scared again after his earlier outbursts of bravado.
JOHN (to Sally, but with his eyes still on Raz): Oh yes, of course you charge him. With numerous charges of criminal damage and defacement. I doubt twenty-four hours will be enough for him to give you a comprehensive list of every piece of public or private property he's besmirched over the past six months alone, but he should make a good start, in that time.
And with that, John turns and does walk away, leaving Raz staring after him, eyes wide in shocked disbelief. John is halfway through the archway back into the street when Raz finds his voice again.
RAZ (calling after John, in a pitifully pleading tone): Doctor Watson? Doctor Watson!
But John doesn't look back.
Puzzle No. 8:
What is the meaning of URBAN BEAT SIG?
The Sun headline by RubraSaetaFictor
The Sun article by RubraSaetaFictor
Graffiti picture by RubraSaetaFictor
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?
What am I, miserable, then to say?
Whom shall I ask to be my protector,
When even the just may hardly be sure?
(Dies Irae, Verse 7)
INT. - Royal Courts of Justice – Courtroom – NIGHT
Monday, 17 March 2014
Outside the windows, night has fallen, and the court session is coming to an end. The atmosphere in the room is now remarkably more relaxed and animated than before. The barristers of both parties are busy scribbling some final notes into their files, while the businessmen are in the process of shutting down and packing up their laptops, talking among themselves in an undertone. There is a distinct general sense of - politely tempered – relief and contentment in the air. There are even smiles being exchanged between the two groups of men. The only person who looks extremely discontented is Sherlock in his visitor's chair. On the bench, Justice Talbot closes his files and arranges them into a neat stack. Then he rises to his feet. Both parties fall respectfully silent.
JUDGE TALBOT (in an almost jovial tone): Well, gentlemen, let me congratulate you on a most sensible settlement. You will receive the transcript of today's proceedings within a week, upon which you may apply for an enforceable deed. But for today, we're done. Thank you, and have a safe trip home, everyone.
The parties hurry to acknowledge this with nods, smiles and murmured words of gratitude. The judge receives this with an inclination of his head, then picks up his files and sweeps from the room, without ever so much as a single glance in Sherlock's direction. The private door behind the bench falls shut behind him.
INT. - Royal Courts of Justice – The Main Hall – NIGHT
Shortly afterwards, Sherlock is walking rapidly down towards the main entrance of the Royal Courts of Justice building on the Strand. The courthouse is almost deserted at this late hour, with only a handful of employees and lawyers still making their way towards the exit.
Sherlock arrives at the portal and pushes the large wooden door open. He glances up at the scaffolding still set up around the outer arch of the entrance and shakes his head, then looks ahead – and immediately stops dead. Directly outside the row of bollards separating the entrance to the courthouse from the busy street – bang in the middle of a strictly-no-parking-zone – a sleek black car with tinted windows stands waiting. Sherlock smiles knowingly, and then quickly and smoothly melts back into the shadow of the building.
INT. - St. Bartholomew’s Hospital - Corridor - NIGHT
John comes walking purposefully along a ground floor corridor of the hospital that leads to a lift. He arrives at its closed door and pushes the button. The lights above the door indicate that the lift is descending towards him. He takes out his phone while he waits, checking it - probably for the umpteenth time - for a response from Sherlock. With a small ping, the lift door opens. John, his eyes still on the screen of his phone, takes an automatic step forward - and almost collides with the petite woman in a white lab coat who is just about to exit it.
MOLLY (startled): Oh!
They realise at the same moment who the other is.
JOHN: Molly, sorry. (He pockets his phone quickly.) I’m sorry.
MOLLY (with a smile): It’s alright, never mind. (She gestures along the corridor. Apologetically) Sorry, I’ve got to go, I’ve just got a call from the police. They’re bringing in someone they want me to look at straight away.
JOHN: Unidentified young man found dead in an alley in Marylebone?
MOLLY (surprised): How do you know?
JOHN: I'm here for the same reason.
MOLLY: Oh. (Smiling again) Well, come along.
They start walking.
MOLLY: Mugging gone wrong, or gang violence, the officer on the phone said. How did you get involved in that?
JOHN: Because no self-respecting mugger would take his victim’s wallet, but leave the latest iPhone model behind.
MOLLY: They didn't take his phone? You mean the killer was only pretending to be a mugger?
JOHN: Maybe they just wanted to make it hard to identify the victim on the spot.
They reach a glass door leading to a staircase. John holds it open for Molly. They pass through and start descending the stairs.
MOLLY: But you still haven’t told me why you’re on the case.
JOHN (sourly): Oh, just standing in for a diva that can’t be bothered to answer the phone. (Molly smiles in slightly amused sympathy, but John takes no notice. In a rather exasperated tone) Fresh body almost on his doorstep, cryptic message to go with it, still not interested. Can you believe it? But I dunno, Mrs Hudson thought this morning that he’d given up on the Dies Irae murders, too.
MOLLY: Why's that?
JOHN: She said he talked Italian on the phone all Sunday afternoon, but then he ate half a sweet shop and slept for fourteen hours straight.
MOLLY: Oh. But he wouldn't just give up, would he? At least not if a case really mattered to him.
John struggles hard for a moment to keep his expression neutral at this, but he fails completely. Molly, seeing the pained look on his face, falters and blushes furiously.
MOLLY: Oh - I - sorry. Well - he - he may put something aside for a while, maybe… I’m sure he hasn’t given up on that bonfire thing, either, John. He’ll get there. He’s just -
JOHN (resigned): - not working himself to death over that one any more, either. Yeah, I suppose from the Mozart point of view, that’s a relief.
They walk on. At the bottom of the staircase, they enter the long bare corridor of the morgue.
MOLLY (casting around for a less problematic subject): Did you say there was a cryptic message? What about that?
JOHN: There were a few words typed on the victim’s phone. (He gets out his own phone again and taps his way to the image of the graffiti.) “Urban beat sig”, whatever that means.
Molly carefully takes the phone from John for a better look, her eyebrows drawn together.
MOLLY: Well, that's odd...
JOHN: What is?
MOLLY: I'd have said they're names, not words. Not “urban beat”, but “Urban” and “Beat”.
She pronounces them “Oorbahn” and “Beyat”.
JOHN (with a hint of impatience): And who the hell are "Urban" and "Beat"?
MOLLY (with a little laugh): Why, Sherlock’s roommates in the Swiss Guard barracks in Rome, of course. Did he never tell you about them?
Silence. John stares at Molly, eyes wide in disbelief.
JOHN (after a moment): Bloody hell.
Behind them, the doors bang open. Both Molly and John flinch as two morgue attendants start wheeling in a stretcher, the wheels rattling loudly on the tiled floor. On it is a human shape, covered neatly with a sheet. Behind it walk two uniformed police officers. Molly nods to them distractedly as the sad little cortege passes them and then continues into one of the dissecting rooms, leaving the door open for Molly to follow.
JOHN: He never mentioned their names. I’d have remembered.
MOLLY: Yeah, I know. They sound odd to English ears, but apparently they’re quite common first names in Switzerland.
She hands him the phone back. John takes it and pockets it, shaking his head incredulously.
JOHN: So Anderson was right? Anderson was right all the time?
MOLLY (with a frown): Right about what?
JOHN: About the big Catholic conspiracy.
MOLLY: Oh, like Kitty Riley wrote in that article? So that was Anderson's idea? (Slightly embarrassed) I know it was my first thought, too, back when the Hedlunds died. But when you see it in the paper like that, it just sounds like complete nonsense, doesn't it?
JOHN: But those names? Swiss Guards running amok in London to make the Last Judgement come true? (He puts his hands to the sides of his face. In a comically desperate tone) What's next? Church ruins, masked figures in long robes and pointed hoods, torchlight and gloomy chants in pseudo-Latin? Good God. Now I feel like I'm stuck in a bad Dan Brown novel!
MOLLY (with a faint smile): I'm afraid Sherlock would agree.
JOHN (resigned): No, Sherlock would just go "Dan who?"
They exchange a look, then both chuckle fondly for a moment. But then they both sober up again very quickly.
MOLLY: But does that mean this dead man is another Dies Irae victim?
JOHN: For what verse? He’s too young to be a judge. Besides, he'd be the first Dies Irae victim who knew what had got him, and who bothered to let posterity know, too.
MOLLY: If he typed that himself. Maybe the killers literally left their signature on his phone when he was already dead. Or what else is the “sig” part supposed to mean?
JOHN: You mean it's a warning to Sherlock?
MOLLY: Well, you did say the man was killed practically on Sherlock's doorstep.
JOHN: You're right. I think it’s high time he started taking the hints seriously after all. (He gets his phone out again and hits a speed dial. In an irritated mutter) Pick it up now, you twit!
EXT. - Carey Street, behind the Royal Courts of Justice – NIGHT
A quiet side street behind the Royal Courts of Justice. A heavy but unmarked wooden door in the facade of the court building - more a fire exit than an official entrance - opens to emit the dark figure of Sherlock in his coat, looking very content at having successfully escaped from being called to account by Mycroft for his lack of progress on the Swiss bank case. He starts walking along the pavement, pulling his phone from his pocket to switch it back on. Several notifications pop up on the screen – one missed call from Mycroft and two missed calls from Sally Donovan's phone, all of which he swipes to ignore, and a text message from John, which he opens and reads as he walks.
Sherlock frowns and opens the attached photo file of the graffiti that Raz made on the wall above the body.
He halts and stares at it for a moment. A collage of images presents itself to his inner eye, depicting the heart of the Vatican City, St. Peter's Square in Rome, framed by portrait paintings of Pope Urban VIII and Saint Beat of Lungern, the patron saint of Switzerland.
The voice of Philip Anderson sounds in Sherlock's ears.
ANDERSON'S VOICE: A worldwide organisation, with thousands of loyal foot soldiers, virtually unlimited funds, and a history of two thousand years of crime in the name of a higher cause – do you really think they'll let one man stand in their way, even if it's Sherlock Holmes?
Another series of images crosses Sherlock’s mind’s eye.
Sherlock winces and catches his breath, as if he's just received a real blow. Then he shakes his head as if to clear it, and with an impatient gesture of his hand chases all the images away. His phone with the photo of the graffiti on the screen comes back into focus.
The yellow letters peel off from the brick, and rise to float in the air before Sherlock’s eyes, moving to sit in an orderly row.
Sherlock’s hand slides his phone into his pocket as his eyes close and the letters in front of him transform from ragged graffiti into clean block letters, white against a black background, like an old flip-clock.
He raises his hand back up and an additional block for a letter appears at the end of “SIG”
The letters of the alphabet begin to rapidly flip through in the open slot, with completed words popping up one after the other.
Then the words “URBAN BEAT” disappear, and the possibilities for “SIG_” present themselves in the form of a list.
The complete list before his eyes, Sherlock immediately dismisses SIGERSON, SIGH, SIGHT and SIGIL, sliding the words to the right with his finger until they disappear off the screen. He then taps a finger on SIGRUN. An image of a woman with a shield and winged helmet appears, accompanied by the opening of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”.
Sherlock shunts the word and image off to the right, abruptly ending the tune. He moves up in the list and focusses on SIGNATURE. A steady bass beat begins to thump. He slides SIGNATURE up to the right corner of the frame, minimizing the letters and the sound with a pinch of his fingers. Next, he slides SIGNAL and SIGN away off the screen. A tap on SIGMUND produces an image of Sigmund Freud, which is also dismissed almost immediately.
SIGMA changes to its Greek equivalent before being placed in the lower right corner.
Sherlock taps on SIGG, and the letters transform into the logo for the water bottle company.
He is about to dismiss it when his eyes focus on the Swiss flag in the upper right hand corner. His eyes quickly scan up the list and land on SIGA, which turns into yet another company logo.
The words in both logos fade out and the Swiss flags combine and grow large. All the remaining words in the list tumble down off the screen - SIGE transforming momentarily into Si and Ge as represented on the periodic table of elements on the way out.
The bass beat from before becomes louder again, but it sounds less and less like music and more like marching feet now. Overlaying the picture of the Swiss flag, images of Swiss Guards in their colourful uniforms reappear, marching across the screen from left to right.
SHERLOCK'S VOICE (under his breath): No, not you! It's just names, it's got nothing to do with you!
The Swiss Guards keep marching.
SHERLOCK'S VOICE (barking the word like an order): Dismiss!
The Swiss Guards finally disappear. They are overlaid in turn by an open wooden box, lined with velvet, filled with dozens of cameos.
SHERLOCK'S VOICE (calling out just like he did at Irene Adler's house years ago): Vatican cameos!
Sherlock ducks as a bullet comes whistling through the air, hitting the box and knocking it over. The cameos fall out and turn into coins that fall into Mycroft Holmes’ open hands.
Mind Palace Mycroft picks up a single gold coin and raises it to the light. He and Sherlock are now standing together in the centre of the empty Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.
SHERLOCK (looking around at their surroundings): You know this is all wrong. It's got nothing to do with this.
MYCROFT: True. But “money” is our cue.
SHERLOCK (shortly): Go away, Mycroft.
MYCROFT (circling around Sherlock, playing with the coin between his fingers): HM Revenue and Customs believe that a small but exclusive Swiss bank, the Bankhaus König, is running a very successful and very illegal investment scheme for wealthy British customers who wish to bypass British taxation laws.
SHERLOCK: Yes. Boring.
MYCROFT: You promised you’d solve it.
SHERLOCK: I’ll look into it later.
MYCROFT: It looks as if they're not doing at all well these days. They've always prided themselves on being patrons of the arts.
SHERLOCK (perking up his ears): What was that?
MYCROFT: But it appears that they're trying to back out of their long-standing sponsorship agreement with the Zurich Opera House now.
The huge expanse of St. Peter's shrinks down into the far more intimate interior of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
In the background, an orchestra is playing the Introitus of Mozart's Requiem.
SHERLOCK’S VOICE: Those tickets were not a distraction. They were a message.
MOLLY’S VOICE: Maybe Greg should look for something morally dodgy in the victims’ lives.
SALLY DONOVAN’S VOICE: They’ve all got a secret.
JOHN’S VOICE: Why don’t you just go and get that customer list somewhere, Mycroft?
Sherlock looks down at his hands. He's holding the concert programme from Ash Wednesday in it, but all it says on the page where the Dies Irae text used to be is:
SHERLOCK'S VOICE: He's the odd man out.
There is the faint sound of marching again, one of the marchers now just slightly off beat.
For a moment, Sherlock flashes back to the funeral of Commander Cunningham, with the coffin bearers walking along the gravel path towards the grave, one of them just a little too short, and one of them out of step, too.
LESTRADE'S VOICE: Verse Five will be Count Walsegg's last.
SHERLOCK’S VOICE: They were a message…
The flip-clock writing is back, then, with the missing letters now slotting neatly into place.
Sherlock snaps out of his Mind Palace, and is back in the real world, on the pavement outside the courthouse.
SHERLOCK: Oh, Mycroft. You idiot.
MALE VOICE: Hey, mate! Gotta light?
A man has walked up to him in the dark, an unlit cigarette between his lips.
MAN: You gotta light?
SHERLOCK (distractedly): Don't smoke.
MAN (spitting out his cigarette onto the pavement, with a grin): Too bad. Coulda used a smoke.
In a split second, Sherlock, suddenly alert, takes in the man's appearance – bald head, burly figure, dressed in a workman's overall – and the fact that a large, windowless van has just pulled up next to them in the otherwise empty street. But too late. The side door of the van slides open, and at the same time, the bald man aims a vicious blow right into the pit of Sherlock's stomach, knocking the air out of him and making him double over with pain. A second man in overalls appears behind Sherlock and kicks him in the back. Sherlock topples over onto the pavement, groaning faintly as the bald man lands a few more well-placed kicks against his ribs with his sturdy worker's boots. When Sherlock goes limp - surprisingly quickly - they grab him under the arms, pull him up and shove him roughly into the waiting van. The door bangs shut, and the van drives off at top speed, the writing on its back doors just visible for a moment in the faint light from the street lamps. It says
Building and Renovation Services
Beddington Industrial Estate, Sutton.
INT - St. Bartholomew’s Hospital - The Morgue - NIGHT
In the clinical bright light of one of the dissecting rooms, the body of the young man found dead in the alley earlier that evening is laid out on one of the dissecting tables. Molly and John, both with gloves on, have opened and pushed aside the blood-soaked clothes that were hiding the fatal wounds, exposing the young man’s torso. They're alone in the room now, both the attendants and the police officers dismissed.
MOLLY (studying the wounds closely): Definitely not a knife.
JOHN (ditto): Definitely not. Three shots, close to the heart, but not into it - that could have left him just time enough to get out his phone and type a few words, before he lost consciousness and bled out.
He straightens up.
MOLLY: Why didn't he call 999 then?
JOHN: I don't know. (Quietly) It's odd, what goes on in your head when you think you've had it. You can't control it – whatever seems important to you then just pops up and stays, and there's no room for anything else.
Molly nods sympathetically.
JOHN: But what I don't understand is why nobody heard the shots. The neighbours and the kebab shop people would all have come running.
JOHN: Not exactly standard equipment for a Swiss Guard. (He pushes his hair off his face with his forearm, careful not to touch it with his soiled hand.) But they would know how to handle one, of course.
MOLLY (anxiously): It still doesn’t make sense, does it? I mean, they’re soldiers and bodyguards, not assassins. Their job is to protect the Pope, not to kill religious deviants or something.
JOHN (nodding at the dead young man): And what would make that one a religious deviant, anyway? And all the other victims, too? There was nothing in all their papers and things and affairs that pointed at any trouble to do with their faith.
MOLLY: Then we’re back with the idea that they’re just trying to get at Sherlock for that old scandal about the dead cardinal?
JOHN: But why walk over half a dozen random other people to get to him? It’s not like any of the victims knew Sherlock, or were his clients, or anything.
MOLLY (gesturing at the dead man): This one could have been.
JOHN (pensively): You think he could’ve been on his way to see Sherlock? Because he was so close to Baker Street? (Molly nods.) But then who is he? I’ve never seen him in my –
He breaks off. His eyes have fixed themselves on the dead man's right hand resting on the table. John takes it and turns the fingertips up to the light. On the thumb and forefinger, underneath a faint smear of dried blood, there are a few small but distinct black stains, as of ink.
JOHN: Good God.
He glances at the young man's face then, round and smooth, but very still and very pale in the bright light, and at his short blond hair. Then John's eyes travel all the way down to the dead man’s feet as if he's measuring the man's - rather modest - height in his mind. He looks up at Molly, deeply disconcerted.
JOHN: Molly, what if he's -
The buzz of a phone interrupts him. John claps his hand to his pocket, but then realises it's not his.
MOLLY (peeling off her gloves): Sorry, that's mine. (With a blush) It's probably Tom. (She's fished the phone out of the pocket of her lab coat, and glances at the screen. In a tone of surprise) It's Sherlock!
She switches the loudspeaker on, then takes the call.
MOLLY (into the phone, expectantly): Molly Hooper?
At first, there is only a crackle of static on the line, as if Sherlock's phone has a very weak signal. Then Sherlock's deep voice can be heard, but remote and strangely hollow, as if speaking into his phone from a distance.
SHERLOCK'S VOICE: Can you come --
Static again. Molly and John exchange a puzzled look. Molly is just about to speak up in response when Sherlock's voice is back for another four clearly distinguishable words. But immediately after those, the call breaks off altogether, and there's nothing on the line but the steady beep of a severed connection. Molly ends her side of the call with a frown.
MOLLY (puzzled): He’s just hung up. That’s a bit rude.
JOHN: That’s Sherlock.
MOLLY: Yes, but what on earth is a “blind green house queue”?
Rex tremendae majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.
King of tremendous majesty,
Who freely savest those that need saving,
Save me, Source of Mercy.
(Dies Irae, Verse 8)
EXT. - Kew Road, Richmond, London – NIGHT
Monday 17 March 2014
A taxi is stationed at the kerb of Kew Road, just outside Victoria Gate - one of the gates giving access to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Then it drives off, the light on its roof flickering back on to indicate that it's vacant again. In the faint glow from a nearby street lamp, John and Molly can be seen standing on the pavement by the ornamental wrought-iron gates. The gates are firmly closed. Beyond them, the vague outlines of trees loom over the high brick wall encircling the Gardens.
MOLLY (looking up at the massive gates, with a little sigh): Well, they're closed at night, of course. Why didn't we think of that?
JOHN: I did.
He gestures to Molly to follow him. They walk a short way along the brick wall, until they reach a bus stop. John casts a calculating look up at the Gardens’ boundary wall, then looks around quickly to make sure there are no witnesses nearby. Then - to Molly's surprise – he swings himself up onto the solid metal rubbish bin that's positioned next to the glass-walled bus shelter. He grabs the edge of the shelter's metal roof, which is within easy reach now, and pulls himself up and onto it. Then he leans down and offers Molly a hand.
JOHN: Come on up.
MOLLY (with a nervous little giggle): Really?
JOHN: Yep. Come on, I'm not sure how long this will bear my weight.
Molly plucks up her courage, and, with John's help, clambers onto the rubbish bin and from there onto the roof. It creaks ominously as it takes the additional weight. Molly grimaces. From the roof, it's only a short way across to the top of the brick wall. On its other side, all is in darkness. John peers down, then lowers himself over the edge. He hangs by his hands for a moment, then drops into the low bushes growing at the foot of the wall. Molly hesitates, perched precariously on top of the wall.
JOHN: It's fine, come down.
Molly goes over the wall feet-first, but the way to the ground is even longer for her than it was for John, and she stumbles forward as she hits the ground. John grabs her arm to steady her.
MOLLY: Oof! Thanks.
They step out of the bushes and onto a narrow overgrown footpath.
JOHN (pointing): This way. That will take us straight back to the Victoria Gate. It'll be easy to find our way from there.
MOLLY: John – (She hesitates, then continues in a low voice.) Why do we do things like this?
John's face is almost invisible in the dark, so it's hard to tell whether he looks amused or resigned.
JOHN: Because it's Sherlock?
EXT. - Kew Gardens – Path – NIGHT
A moment later, John and Molly are walking easily along a broader paved path that leads away from the closed gates, deep into the dark, deserted gardens. They're talking in an undertone.
MOLLY: You're no mean puzzle solver yourself, you know. I'd never have known to come here. “Blind greenhouse at Kew,” how was I supposed to work that out?
JOHN: Well, he probably said more, we just didn't hear it. But really, we just got lucky. If Mary hadn't been here for the plant sale last week, and if she hadn't told me about the shuttered old greenhouse that the Friends of Kew were raising money to restore, I'd never have got it either.
And a moment later, there it is. They halt. Ahead of them, in a clearing surrounded by huge ancient trees, stands the blind greenhouse. It’s a big domed building of glass and steel, a hundred years old or older, but it has clearly fallen into disuse and disrepair. The wooden blinds that cover most of the glass panes are dark with age and rot. Some are hanging askew, and some have even fallen apart. The panes themselves are opaque with dirt, and a few of them are cracked and broken. There is no light to be seen anywhere in or near the building, and everything is quiet and still.
JOHN: Now look at that. A place right after Sherlock’s own heart, I’d say. It’s downright picturesque.
MOLLY (suppressing a shudder): In daylight, maybe. I find it a bit creepy, to be honest.
With a sudden flapping noise, a large birds rises out of a nearby tree. Both John and Molly flinch. Then they laugh, a little embarrassed at being so easily startled.
JOHN (in an enterprising tone): Well, let’s see if there’s anybody at home, then.
He moves towards the greenhouse, but Molly holds him back.
MOLLY: John – wait.
JOHN: What is it?
MOLLY (anxiously): I’m not sure. This feels wrong, somehow. I mean – (She clears her throat nervously.) Somehow I don’t really think Sherlock would have asked me to come here, alone and at night. (With a nervous little smile.) You, yes, of course, there wouldn't be anything strange about it if it had been you. But he called me. And I’m always happy to help out, of course, he knows that, but I don’t really go on adventures with him, do I?
JOHN: It's not like he hasn't turned to you before. We both heard him, it was his number, it was definitely his voice. And in case that’s what you’re thinking, he didn’t sound like he was being forced to say it with a gun at his head.
MOLLY (not reassured): Are you sure you could tell the difference?
John grimaces, admitting the truth of Molly’s words. His right hand automatically goes to the pocket of his jacket, feeling for something. Not finding it, he sighs a little ruefully.
JOHN: Well, standing here in the dark isn’t going to help anyone. You stay here. I’ll take a look around.
MOLLY (quickly): No, I’m coming with you.
She squares her shoulders bravely, and together they advance across the clearing towards the greenhouse. They reach its door. John takes out his phone and uses the little light on it to check the lock. There is no lock, just a hole that once held the lock cylinder. But the door is bolted shut on the outside with a massive metal bolt. John and Molly exchange a look, eyebrows raised. Then John hands his phone to Molly, and begins to inch back the bolt bit by bit. It moves, but with a low creaking sound that seems overloud in the stillness of the night. As soon as it’s fully drawn back, the door swings inwards of its own accord, and the expanse of the greenhouse opens before them.
INT. – Kew Gardens – The Blind Greenhouse - NIGHT
The interior of the greenhouse is in no better repair than its outside. The ground before John and Molly’s feet is an irregular maze of broken flagstones, littered with shards of broken flower pots. The light from John’s phone falls onto a long plywood potting table that stretches along the glass wall to their right, its end invisible in the darkness. On it, there’s a pair of barely-alive spider plants in terracotta pot s. One pot is upright, the other is knocked to its side, potting soil spilling out onto the wooden surface and over the edge of the table onto the ground. A rusty pair of pruning scissors, covered in cobwebs, lies abandoned next to the pots. The place fairly smells of decay. Molly wrinkles her nose, and then jumps when a familiar voice suddenly rings out through the darkness.
SHERLOCK’S VOICE: You’ve taken your time, Mycroft. Come on, I’ve won, I’ve solved your case, no point in letting me stew. That’s just… petty.
There’s a rustling sound, as of a body moving against the ground, and something like a suppressed groan.
John and Molly exchange a look, wide-eyed with alarm. Then they rush towards the source of the voice, John in the lead, Molly with the light close behind him. A narrow stone-flagged walkway that runs between two long, now empty flowerbeds takes them to the back of the greenhouse.
There, in the hindmost corner, their little light finds a dark lump on the ground. It’s Sherlock, tipped over sideways in the plastic folding chair he has been tied to, his arms pulled behind his back and around the backrest, one of them now trapped underneath the edge of the chair, depriving him of the leverage to push himself upright again. When the light falls onto his face, it catches a narrow trail of blood running from his temple down his cheek. Sherlock squeezes his eyes shut against the light and makes a small noise of protest. John immediately drops to his knees at his friend's side.
JOHN: Christ, Sherlock! Are you okay?
He feels for the bonds that tie Sherlock’s wrists together.
JOHN (urgently): Molly, light.
Molly leans over Sherlock with the phone. Sherlock, with a sudden but ineffectual move that was supposed to turn his face towards her, almost knocks the phone out of her hand.
SHERLOCK (surprised): Molly?
MOLLY: Yes. You called me, remember?
JOHN (under his breath): Damn. Zip ties.
SHERLOCK (to Molly, slightly confused): I called you?
JOHN (to Molly): Need something to cut them with.
MOLLY: The pruning scissors. I’ll get them.
SHERLOCK (still somewhat bewildered): Must’ve been the only speed dial that was still working.
He makes another move as if to turn around. John puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
JOHN: Yeah, alright. We’ll sort that all out later. Keep still, okay?
SHERLOCK (in a brave attempt at joking): Getting a bit tired of that now, to be honest.
John, in spite of his worry and alarm, smiles. A moment later, Molly is back with the rusty pruning scissors. John pushes back the cuffs of Sherlock’s jacket and shirt - his coat is nowhere to be seen – but hesitates when Sherlock responds to this with a harsh indrawn breath.
SHERLOCK (through gritted teeth): It’s alright, get them off.
Molly snips the zip ties, and Sherlock’s arms come free. John pushes the chair out of the way. Sherlock stretches out his bent legs, and groans with relief.
SHERLOCK (a little breathlessly): Thank you. My feet really were getting cold. My socks and shoes are somewhere over there, I think.
He makes a vague little gesture with his hand at the nearby flowerbed.
She shines the light down to Sherlock's feet. He's barefoot, and his feet are grimy with soil.
JOHN: Never mind your shoes now! Come on, can you stand? Let’s get out of here before they come back!
He puts his hand on Sherlock’s shoulder again, but more by way of exhortation than comfort this time.
SHERLOCK (lightly): Oh, they’re not coming back any time soon. Not before Wednesday morning. If ever.
He tries to push himself up into a sitting position, but his arms, with the circulation cut off for so long, fail him, and he slumps back down. John and Molly move at the same time to catch him. They pull him upright, one on either side. In the dim light, John spots a low wooden bench against the back wall of the greenhouse. They support Sherlock the few steps towards it, and lower him onto it. Sherlock props his back against the glass wall of the greenhouse, closes his eyes and lets out a long breath. John settles down next to his friend, and as a matter of course brushes back the strands of Sherlock’s hair that hide the gash in his temple to inspect it.
JOHN: Who did that?
MOLLY (to John, nodding at the jagged concrete border that runs all around the flowerbeds): When he fell over with the chair?
SHERLOCK (opening his eyes, a little testily): I didn't fall over. I merely rearranged the chair into a horizontal position in order to slide my phone out of my pocket.
John, satisfied that the head wound is shallow and needs no immediate emergency treatment, dabs the blood off with a tissue. Then he turns his attention to Sherlock's wrists, carefully turning up the sleeves of his shirt and jacket. All around the deep indentations left in his flesh by the tightly drawn plastic bands of the zip ties, the skin of Sherlock’s wrist is chafed bloody and raw.
MOLLY: Good God.
JOHN (to Sherlock): You managed a phone call like that? Did you end up dialling Molly with your toes?
SHERLOCK (matter-of-factly): No, I called her with my hands, then dropped the phone, then tried to call her again with my toes, but by then the phone was no longer cooperating. Putting the socks and shoes back on after that seemed too much of an effort, I admit.
JOHN (eying Sherlock’s flayed wrists critically): It would. Let's hope there's no neural damage there, after those acrobatics.
Meanwhile, Molly has gone to retrieve Sherlock’s socks and shoes from the flowerbed. She's also found the ruin of Sherlock's phone, and brings it back with her - screen smashed in, casing broken open, wires sticking out of the gap.
JOHN: Jesus, that didn't just fall down. (To Sherlock) You do realise you could easily have become a study in decomposition if it hadn't held out for that one last call?
Sherlock contemplates the empty flowerbed with narrowed eyes for a moment, as if seriously considering its suitability for such purposes.
MOLLY (to John, drily): Don't give him ideas.
Sherlock shrugs, and holds out a hand for his footwear, but John is quicker.
JOHN (putting the shoes firmly aside): Anything else that hurts?
SHERLOCK: Nothing broken, I think. (He smiles wryly.) I had to walk a fine line between staying in character and staying conscious, but I think I did it.
John shakes his head, and proceeds to make sure himself by going over Sherlock's limbs with gently probing hands.
JOHN: So, gardening? Which verse of the Dies Irae exactly are we at now?
SHERLOCK: I’m not a Dies Irae victim.
He coughs, and presses his hand against his ribcage as if to contain a sudden bout of pain.
JOHN (irritated): Oh no, of course you’re not. You’ve just got kidnapped, badly beaten up, and then left to rot in here by your old friends from the Swiss Guards, but it’s got nothing to do with the Dies Irae, no, definitely not. What is it, a denial virus? First Judge Talbot caught it, then Doctor Stepansky, then Professor Walker, now you?
SHERLOCK (peevishly): John, I’ve been beaten up by Urban and Beat often enough to know exactly what it feels like, and this was not nearly – (He coughs again, and grimaces.) – refined enough to be them. Besides, I’ve never met a Swiss Guard that spoke in an Estuary accent.
John stops in his examination, and looks up sharply at Sherlock.
JOHN: Are you saying it wasn’t Count Walsegg who got you?
SHERLOCK (wearily): John, Count Walsegg is dead. You spent the better part of this evening looking at his body.
MOLLY (after a moment): So that was your Messenger? The young man from the alley, I mean?
SHERLOCK: He must be, yes.
JOHN (sitting back on the bench, bewildered): Our killer.
SHERLOCK: No. My client. (He shifts for a more comfortable position, holding his ribs again.) The man who brought us the tickets to the Requiem concert, the Grey Messenger, never was a killer. Quite the contrary.
JOHN: What do you mean?
SHERLOCK: He never wanted me as an audience for those crimes, John, much less as one of their objects. (Quietly, with genuine regret) He wanted me to stop them.
Silence. In the sudden hush, they can hear the wind in the trees, through the door Molly and John left standing open when they entered the greenhouse. Then there's a distinct other noise from right outside the door, as of a dry twig snapping under someone's foot. Molly and John both tense in alarm, but Sherlock gives no sign of having heard it. He looks down at his hands, and flexes his fingers tentatively.
SHERLOCK: Our Messenger knew that he was up against someone he couldn't possibly hope to bring down on his own. That's why he came to me for help.
JOHN: He was working against the killer?
JOHN: But then who is the real killer?
SHERLOCK: Someone way out of the Messenger's league. Someone highly intelligent, highly creative, and highly dangerous. A man with vast resources at his disposal, with no lack of willing paid helpers, with excellent connections, boundless ambition, and no scruples whatsoever. A nasty temper, too.
John looks at Sherlock in disbelief. Sherlock smirks.
SHERLOCK (raising his voice suddenly): Not talking about you, though, Mycroft, sorry to disappoint you. Do come in now, it's rude to listen at doors.
There is another silence. Then suddenly, with a loud click, the man who was lurking by the door turns a switch, and electric light floods the greenhouse, making its three occupants squint in the sudden brightness. A row of bare and very dusty lightbulbs, only two out of three still working, hangs suspended above the narrow walkway between the flowerbeds, illuminating none other than Mycroft Holmes in his usual suited and umbrella'ed perfection, walking towards the other three. Sherlock straightens up at his brother's approach, and even makes a - mostly fruitless - attempt at wiping the remaining traces of soil off his face.
SHERLOCK (in a dignified tone, which is strangely at odds with his bedraggled appearance): I take exception to your tardiness, Mycroft. I underwent considerable inconveniences on your behalf tonight, so I'm entitled to a moment of compensatory triumph at solving your case five full hours before the appointed time. It's not exactly sporting of you to try and put it off.
Mycroft comes to a halt in front of his brother and juts out his chin.
MYCROFT: If I may say so, brother dear, it would have been sporting of you to take the front door of the Royal Courts of Justice like any other sensible person. It would have saved me the trouble of pulling all the CCTV from the back street, and then tracing a certain pseudo-builder's van all the way here. Not to mention the trouble it would have saved you.
He eyes his brother attentively, taking in his battered face and the damaged wrists with a single glance. He purses his lips.
SHERLOCK: The bald one is a builder in his day job.
MYCROFT (only mildly interested): And how do you know that, I wonder?
SHERLOCK (evenly): Steel-capped boots. Ask my phone.
He nods towards Molly, who is still cradling Sherlock's broken phone in her hands, almost as tenderly as one would hold a bird with broken wings. She holds it out for Mycroft's inspection. Mycroft, with an inscrutable expression, glances first at the ruin, then at his brother again. His eyes go to the place on Sherlock's chest where his phone, placed in the inner pocket of his jacket, must have taken most but not all of the impact of the builder's vicious kicks. Mycroft's expression loses some of his air of superiority, and he looks across to John, wordlessly asking for a professional opinion. John responds with a reassuring nod.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, back in his former confident tone): Well, I acknowledge that the full credit for staging Verse Eight goes to John and Miss Hooper here. (With a sardonic smile) Salva me, fons pietatis. But now please explain to me how all this – (gesturing around the greenhouse) - is connected to my case.
SHERLOCK: I told you, I solved it.
JOHN (to Sherlock, confused): Hang on. The Swiss bank case? What's it got to do with the Dies Irae?
SHERLOCK (with a sigh): It's got everything to do with it, John. If your phone is still functional, kindly let Mycroft see the writing on the wall.
He glances at his brother, his lip curling in what would be a proper sneer if he wasn't so exhausted. John shakes his head sceptically, but he picks up his phone and starts tapping his way to the photo of the “Urban Beat Sig” graffiti. He holds the phone out to Mycroft, who receives it – and stares at the yellow letters in thunderstruck silence. His mouth opens, then closes again, but no sound comes out.
SHERLOCK (with a badly suppressed undertone of satisfaction): It hardly needs Googling the full name of the Bankhaus König’s director to make sure, does it?
Mycroft seems to be doing it anyway, his thumbs flying busily across the screen for a moment. Then he wordlessly hands the phone back to John with the result displayed on it. John reads, and now his eyes go wide in shock.
JOHN: Urban Beat Sigrist. Jesus Christ. (He lets the phone sink down in his lap.) But that makes no sense. Mycroft's bank director's name, on the phone of the latest Dies Irae victim?
MOLLY: But we don't even know for sure that he is a Dies Irae victim, do we? What verse is he supposed to be?
JOHN: Verse Six? (To Sherlock) But he had nothing to do with Talbot's court session, did he?
SHERLOCK: No, Verse Six just heralded the conclusion of the case. Our newest body is Verse Seven. And he fits it a lot better than even the killers ever meant him to.
Mycroft, meanwhile, has turned away from the others and ambled a few paces along the path between the flowerbed, as if none of their conversation concerns him. But now he turns back, his eyes meet Sherlock's, and he speaks up in a voice heavy with irony.
MYCROFT: "Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? What am I, miserable, then to say?”
Sherlock smiles crookedly, but doesn't reply.
MYCROFT: Ah, but it goes both ways. How does it go on? "Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus? Whom shall I ask to be my protector, when even the just may hardly be sure?”
MOLLY (quietly): A protector? (To Sherlock) So the man from the alley was on his way to you again?
SHERLOCK (to Molly, curtly): Yes. (Turning back to Mycroft, snidely) I know, tonight my slowness cost a man his life. But by then, yours had already cost four and a half. Strange, I don't hear you crowing about getting one up on me this time. Do I detect a residue of common decency after all?
Mycroft presses his lips together in a thin line. He turns away again and starts prodding at the dry remains of a dead plant in the flowerbed with the tip of his umbrella, but says nothing.
JOHN (to Sherlock): Sorry, but a protector from what?
SHERLOCK: From one of the most ingenious and most ruthless murderers I've ever come across.
MOLLY: The bank director? Urban Beat Sigrist?
Mycroft stops dismembering the dead plant, and draws himself up to his full impressive height, firmly back in control of himself after the momentary lapse.
MYCROFT (in a rather sharp tone): Sherlock, this is hardly the time and place for a dramatic denouement. We have work to do.
SHERLOCK (stretching out his legs, conversationally): Oh, but I quite like this setting, you know. It's inspiring. Life and death, growth and decay... By comparison, your office definitely lacks in style and atmosphere. So, be reasonable and sit down, Mycroft. John and Molly here have questions, it would be rather thankless not to answer them.
For a moment, a fierce and entirely silent struggle takes place between the brothers, fought with no more than sharp looks out of narrowed eyes and the minute pursing of lips. John and Molly watch apprehensively. Eventually, Mycroft admits defeat. He picks up the chair and – meticulously polite as always - gestures to the only lady present to sit down in it. Molly, by her facial expression more worried about the consequences of refusing than flattered by the offer, obliges. Mycroft remains standing, radiating disapproval but refraining from further protest.
JOHN (with a glance at Mycroft, but addressing Sherlock): So, Sigrist the bank director was actually going around London killing random people, when we thought he was shouting at Mycroft in Zurich?
SHERLOCK: Oh, not in person. He is an ingenious man. One can't help but admire his audacity, to provide himself with such an impeccable alibi for the murder that started off the Dies Irae sequence on Ash Wednesday. But of course he wouldn't be the type to dirty his own hands anyway. We know who his henchmen are. But he certainly was the directing intelligence behind it all.
MOLLY (with a sigh): So it really was a madman you were after.
SHERLOCK: Yes and no. It's got nothing to do with fanaticism. Sigrist had a very rational end in view. (To John) You said he was attacking random people, but in fact, they were anything but random.
JOHN: How so?
SHERLOCK (quoting): “There’s something the survivors aren’t telling us. They’ve all got a secret.”
JOHN (with a frown): Sally Donovan said that.
SHERLOCK: And unlikely though it may seem, she was right. Look back at the true Dies Irae victims, John. The Hedlunds, Justice Talbot, Commander Cunningham, Doctor Stepansky and Professor Walker. You know how hard we tried to find something that linked them, beyond the imagery of the Dies Irae. Any kind of trouble in their lives that could come back to bite them all one day.
JOHN: But we never found anything.
SHERLOCK: Exactly. And since nobody’s an angel, that should have told us that the one thing that linked them was the fact that if there was anything wrong in their lives, they all took excellent care to leave no paper trail or data trail to prove it. A lot of the Hedlunds' papers went up in smoke, of course, but digital data's more important these days, and much harder to destroy. And that of the other victims was all left intact, and still, there was no lead there.
MOLLY: But if they all shared the same guilty secret, then wouldn't they have known they had trouble coming? Wouldn't they have taken precautions? Warned each other, even?
JOHN: That's true. None of them expected trouble at all. (To Sherlock) Walker, remember – you told him to his face that there was poison in his coffee, but he smiled and drank it anyway.
SHERLOCK (with the air of a connoisseur): Ah, but that's what's so elegant about it. Now, remember what else we knew the victims had in common.
JOHN (pensively): Well, they were all successful, well-respected, very dedicated to their work, and -
He breaks off, and his eyes grow wide again.
SHERLOCK: Exactly. Well-off, you were going to say. Very well-off indeed. Salaries far above average, all of them, and lots of opportunities to make some extra money on the side, too – awards, interviews, lectures, expert opinions, publications... Money that the Crown never need hear of, if only it could be deposited somewhere far out of the reach of the indefatigable sleuths – (with a pointed look at Mycroft) - in the employ of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
JOHN: But that means -
SHERLOCK: That the victims were all on that list of British residents that had entrusted the Bankhaus König with considerable sums of money they didn't want to pay taxes on.
John runs his hands into his hair and pulls at it.
JOHN: God, but why kill and maim them then?
SHERLOCK: Because those crimes were a message, John. We always knew that, didn't we? We just committed the slight error of mistaking the addressee. (Seeing John looking none the wiser) The message behind those crimes wasn't meant for me. It was meant for the one person in Britain who Sigrist thought was in possession of that customer list, and who wanted them to be brought to justice. Sigrist was trying to force that person's hand. He assumed that his counterpart would immediately see the pattern – that terrible things were happening to the people on the list, and that they would keep happening, unless he'd give in, and let Sigrist win.
MYCROFT (firmly): I'd never have let him.
John and Molly's heads swivel around to Mycroft, deeply dismayed as they realise the meaning of Sherlock’s words.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft, sarcastically): I'm sure that's a comfort to the bereaved. But it's all theory, isn't it? Because you never had that list. It was just a bluff when you told Sigrist that you had. And so you didn't see the pattern, his message went unheard, and they all died in vain.
MOLLY (horrified): That bank director had his own customers killed, just for a power game?
JOHN (drily): Slightly mad after all, probably.
SHERLOCK: It was the work of a desperate man, at any rate. Not a game, Molly, but a question of survival. We know that the Bankhaus König is in a very bad shape. Sigrist could do without a handful of his British customers, but he couldn't do without the whole lot of them. If even just a few of them had been exposed and prosecuted by HM Revenue and Customs, all the others would have got cold feet and retracted their investments, too. And that would probably have meant bankruptcy for König.
MOLLY: It is completely crazy, though. (With a glance at Mycroft) I don't think anyone could have seen that coming.
MYCROFT (squaring his shoulders, in a dignified tone): I appreciate your sympathy, Miss Hooper, but it is my job to foresee the unforseeable.
He looks across to Sherlock, as if daring him to sneer some more, but Sherlock has the decency to resist the temptation this time, and instead addresses Molly again.
SHERLOCK: It was crazy, but brilliant. Sigrist's scheme meant that the victims themselves didn't know at all why they were being targeted. They never made the connection even when they survived. Because it's not what you'd expect to happen if you were involved in illegal bank business, is it? You'd fear prosecution, heavy fines, and public exposure; but you wouldn't expect to die for it. So none of the victims saw the attacks coming, and none of them could give Sigrist away afterwards.
JOHN: None except one.
SHERLOCK: Commander Cunningham, yes. The victim for the third verse, but the first chronologically. He must have been driven to suicide by a simple straightforward threat of exposure. And he, a foremost exponent of the worldwide fight against corruption, and a strong believer in the rule of law, predictably killed himself in order to avoid the shame and the disgrace of having fallen so far short of his own standards. (To John, with a sudden grimace) People sometimes really do that, you know. (Back in his former even tone) And he wanted to protect his good name and his family even in death, hence only a very vague note that told us nothing.
JOHN: But Sigrist couldn't know that Cunningham would kill himself. What if the Commander had just ignored the threat, or pre-empted it with a voluntary disclosure?
SHERLOCK: Unlikely, with that kind of personality. But you do have a point. I think of Cunningham as a trial balloon. What if his sense of honour hadn't been warped enough to drive him straight into Sigrist's arms like that? Then maybe the Dies Irae murders would never have happened. But Cunningham proved very cooperative, and so Sigrist, buoyed by success, went ahead to stage his full serial drama. The threat to Cunningham must have been timed carefully for Ash Wednesday to fall between his death and his funeral, to leave Sigrist enough time to create images for the first two verses before the trumpets would ring out in the regions of the graves for Verse Three. The Hedlunds were killed spectacularly on Ash Wednesday, on the day of a long-announced Mozart Requiem concert, to make sure they’d make headline news, and got Mycroft's attention. (To Mycroft) You were quick enough to point out that Count Walsegg and I shared a penchant for classical music, weren't you? But how it could escape you that the very same thing linked you and Sigrist, I'll never understand.
Mycroft grimaces, expressing that he'll never understand it either.
SHERLOCK (addressing John and Molly again): I have nothing to prove it, but the strange coincidence of the Hedlunds' first names appearing side by side in the Dies Irae text may have been what suggested the whole plan to Sigrist in the first place. Then a day later, the judge -
JOHN: No, wait. Ash Wednesday was when you got the tickets for that concert. You're still saying it wasn't Sigrist behind that? That the Messenger was following his own agenda there, not acting on Sigrist's behalf?
SHERLOCK: Yes. That was our cardinal mistake, John, to assume that the man who brought us the tickets to the concert was the same who was orchestrating the Dies Irae events. Remember how I could never work out why the killer wanted me involved? Easy. He didn’t. We knew that for certain by Saturday, when Professor Walker died, and would have died anyway whether we were there or not. And even before that, you, John, had already put your finger right on that spot, although of course you didn't realise it.
JOHN: When was that?
SHERLOCK: When you said that our Messenger must have identified with the real Count Walsegg for a reason. That was exactly true. Like the historic personage, he had a job that he wanted done, but didn't feel equal to himself. So he enlisted a professional to do it for him. That was all. The real Count Walsegg wanted a Requiem, so he went to the man who could do it best. Our Messenger wanted a crime solved, so he went to the man who could do that best. (Bitterly) Or so he thought. The real Count Walsegg never meant to frighten Mozart, or mock him, or threaten him with death. That's just what people made of it later. And we fell into the same trap with our own Grey Messenger. We thought he was a frightful harbinger of death, but he was really a very decent man, and entirely harmless, too. I should have seen that straight away, as soon as we got the tickets.
JOHN: I admit I don't really see it even now.
SHERLOCK: Sending us to the concert was a desperate last minute decision, John, not part of a long-planned scheme. But the Dies Irae crimes were planned a long time ahead. The number plates for the van that Sigrist's henchmen are using were stolen weeks before the killings started, according to Lestrade. Selecting the victims and staging appropriate events for each Dies Irae verse required careful research and planning, too. But the actions of the Messenger were entirely spontaneous. That should have told us he was acting independently.
JOHN: What do you mean, spontaneous?
SHERLOCK: Remember, he bought the tickets only on the day of the concert itself, and only twelve minutes before the box office stalls closed at six. The church was packed that night, the Messenger was probably lucky he still got any tickets at all. He also couldn't be sure that I'd receive them in time. I might not have been at home when he came. But on the spur of the moment, he put all his eggs in one basket, and did his best to get me interested.
MOLLY: So that's why he dressed up in the fancy costume, too?
SHERLOCK: I believe that was mostly from a desire to remain anonymous at all cost.
JOHN: But if he sent us to the concert on purpose, to figure out that there were Dies Irae murders going on, he must have had first-hand knowledge of the Hedlunds' death!
SHERLOCK: Quite true. He bought those tickets at a time when the house was already burning, but the bodies hadn't been found yet, according to the timeline Lestrade gave us on the morning after. So yes, he knew that fire was a Dies Irae crime, long before the police were first called in.
MOLLY: Is he one of Sigrist's henchmen then? One who had second thoughts, maybe, and tried to back out?
JOHN (puzzled): I thought he was a music student?
SHERLOCK: He was certainly very much afraid of Sigrist.
MOLLY (sadly): Justly so.
SHERLOCK: Anyway, the day after, there came the attack on Justice Talbot, and Sigrist had neatly staged Verse Two.
JOHN: Just to clarify – that windscreen wiper case had absolutely nothing to do with it?
SHERLOCK: Absolutely nothing.
JOHN: So there was no connection to Cardinal Tosca either. Or the Swiss Guards. Or the Catholic Church in any other way.
SHERLOCK: Other than Sigrist misusing their hymn for his own purposes, and happening to share his first names with thousands of other Swiss men - no.
JOHN (slightly irritated): So you took that mad conspiracy theory to the press, even though you knew it was complete rubbish from start to finish?
SHERLOCK (innocently): Anderson took it to the press.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, drily): At your instigation.
SHERLOCK (with a shrug): Well, he said the Empty Hearse was at my disposal, so I disposed.
MYCROFT: To lull the killer into a false sense of security, by making him believe you and the police were on an entirely wrong track?
SHERLOCK (curtly): To make sure whatever was going to happen at the court today would happen.
MYCROFT (with a humourless laugh): Well, that worked.
MOLLY (to Sherlock): But how on earth did you manage to make Kitty Riley of all people write that?
SHERLOCK (dismissively): Oh, easy. As you can imagine, she got a slight credibility problem in the media world when I came back and the Richard Brook business was cleared up. She hasn't sold a single story since, and it's beginning to show. So I told her, quite truthfully, that it was a choice between one last chance for a big scoop now, or joining my homeless network by the end of the year at the latest. Her decision was pitifully predictable.
JOHN (bewildered): So the only reason why Talbot kept trying to fend you off was because he did value his privacy?
SHERLOCK (a little snappishly): It's what you said from the beginning, John, I don't see why you're so surprised now. No, Talbot's main fear probably was that if he let me take his case, I might look too closely into his financial affairs, and find out about his illegal business with König. But even he didn't make the connection.
JOHN: So, then came the funeral, for Verse Three... and then came the note that sent us to the Natural History Museum, for Verse Four.
JOHN: Which came from the same Messenger as the tickets?
SHERLOCK: Oh yes. And we disappointed him there, when Sigrist staged the most spectacular disaster to date, and we didn't manage stop him.
MOLLY: But how could the Messenger expect you to stop it, if he never gave you the details?
SHERLOCK: He wasn’t the killer, Molly, so he probably didn’t know the details himself. But he certainly thought we needed some more specific instructions after that. So two days later, he invited me to a little chat at Carmelite Street. He still stood on his anonymity at that time, so he sent me a musical puzzle rather than a simple message, he wore the hat and the mask again, shedding only the cumbersome cloak, and he led me into a pitch dark underground car-park for our talk. (With a rueful smile) It probably never occurred to him how sinister all that would look to an outsider. It was just a practical precaution on his part.
JOHN (exasperated): As was breaking Greg's nose?
SHERLOCK: Panic, John. Pure panic. He heard you come in, he must have thought that Sigrist's men had tracked him down and were coming to get him. You never identified yourselves as police, remember? So when someone tried to grab him in the dark, our Messenger simply lashed about in order to get away. No malice in it at all. Well. He decided to lie low for a while then, after what he must have thought was a narrow miss. But then something happened that made him change his mind again, so earlier today, he went again to see me at Baker Street. Only he never got there. But he did leave us the name of the man who ordered his death.
JOHN: And he went without any of his costume this time. So by today, he was past caring whether you'd identify him or not.
SHERLOCK: Yes, that's remarkable, isn't it? The moment he stops caring, he gets shot. And then the killers move on to put me out of action, too, which means they knew where he was headed. But they didn't shoot me, so they didn't know that I was already involved. They just wanted to make sure I was out of reach until Sigrist had got what he wanted from HM Revenue and Customs.
MOLLY: How did they know where to find you, anyway?
SHERLOCK: Good question. Mycroft?
MYCROFT (drily): I strongly recommend instructing your landlady to be less chatty about your whereabouts to friendly young men in overalls posing as potential clients.
SHERLOCK (ditto): I thought so. She probably made them tea, too.
MOLLY (in a small voice): And who are they going to kill next now?
SHERLOCK: No one. Lestrade, in his habitual innocence, spoke the truth when he said, before the rendezvous in Carmelite Street, that Verse Five was going to be the killer’s last. I doubt Sigrist had any more murders planned after that of Professor Walker. He had made an appointment with his contact at HM Revenue and Customs for tomorrow, so there’d hardly be time for another. And maybe he’d expected Mycroft to cave in a lot sooner, too. Our Messenger today wasn't killed for effect at all. It was just a practical necessity, to stop him spilling the beans. As was neutralising me, for as long as Sigrist needed. (To John) So as you see, I really was never more than a footnote to the story. At least something I got right!
MOLLY: But why does it all fit so well, then? Today’s the day the truth came out, like it says in the Verse Six. And then a just and innocent man gets killed before he can reach his protector, like in Verse Seven...
MYCROFT (sardonically): And feel free to point out the German word for “king”, too, as referenced in Verse Eight.
JOHN (disquieted): “König”, is it?
Molly suppresses a shudder.
MOLLY: But - but that means the Dies Irae has taken on a life of its own! Is it just happening now without anyone holding the reins?
MYCROFT: That’s conspiracy theories for you, Miss Hooper. Everything can be made to fit them. The case of the Grey Messenger is certainly a very interesting study in the power of suggestion. (With a glance at his brother) It demonstrates perfectly that people are willing to see what they want to see, rather than what is.
Sherlock looks for a moment as if he's contemplating a biting retort, but then decides against it.
SHERLOCK (to Molly, earnestly): Ideas, you know. They’re tricky. Hard to control. Can still cause a lot of damage long after the person that came up with it in the first place has moved on.
John looks up sharply at his friend at the familiar words, but by then, something else has already arrested Sherlock's attention. He looks towards the door of the greenhouse with a wry smile.
SHERLOCK: Speak of the devil.
The others turn to follow his gaze. In the door stands Detective-Inspector Lestrade, dressed for work as usual. But as he approaches, he can be seen to still look a little worse for wear. The traces of his injury – yellowing bruises under white strips of medical tape across the bridge of his nose - are still clearly visible.
LESTRADE (to Mycroft, a little testily): Can’t fault your efficiency, but it’d have been nice to get in here without almost being wrestled into handcuffs by your people first.
MYCROFT (smoothly): Well, you must excuse me. This place currently enjoys the same security status as Number Ten Downing Street.
SHERLOCK (in a tone of mock-indignation): What, only?
JOHN (to Lestrade, with a hint of concern): Aren't you supposed to be off duty til the end of the week?
LESTRADE: Yeah, I am. (With a reproachful glance at Sherlock) I’m only here in my capacity as mother hen.
Sherlock snorts. Lestrade, unimpressed, looks him up and down as if to check whether Sherlock is in need of any immediate mothering, then – exactly like Mycroft before – glances across at John for reassurance.
SHERLOCK (peevishly): Anyone got a marker? I think I need to put “I’m fine” on my forehead.
LESTRADE: I’ve seen the CCTV, you know.
SHERLOCK: Seems everybody has. Has it gone viral on YouTube yet?
JOHN (quietly): Sherlock.
LESTRADE (to Mycroft, in a business-like tone): Well, we’ve got them covered. We know where they’re lying low, and we can move in any time.
MYCROFT: Very well.
SHERLOCK (simultaneously): Don't you dare.
LESTRADE (looking back and forth between the brothers): Well, if you do make up your minds, let me know. (To Sherlock) In other news, we’ve got Count Walsegg, too. Sally Donovan’s identified him.
SHERLOCK (leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms): Stumbled over him in the dark when he was already dead, you mean.
JOHN: What do you mean?
LESTRADE (to John, with a sigh): Sherlock told Sally on Saturday morning to drop the accountants, and go looking for a blond Dutch or German speaking music student from a conservatory with an opera props store instead. And she did exactly that.
John gives Sherlock a surprised – and slightly guilty – look at this. Sherlock’s face remains coldly neutral.
LESTRADE: She’d gone through half the music schools by Monday morning. Then the news came in from the mobile phone company that the SIM card the Messenger used in Carmelite Street had been bought and activated on that same day from the Vodafone shop in the Gloucester Arcade shopping centre, so we knew we were in Kensington. By noon, Sally had seen with her own eyes the empty space on a shelf in the basement of the Royal College of Music where a three-cornered hat used to be. (To Sherlock) But you know all that, don’t you? She says she kept you updated.
SHERLOCK (with a shrug): There was no need to intervene. She was doing fine.
LESTRADE (rather sharply): I'll tell her you said that, shall I? (Addressing John again) Anyway, by three in the afternoon, she’d narrowed the possible candidates from their student register down to a Dutch oboist, a pianist from Berlin, and a Swiss singer. By four, there were patrols on their way to all of their homes. (Bitterly) The one who wasn’t at home when they called was the one they were looking for.
There is a dismayed silence.
MOLLY (after a moment, in a low voice): God, so close.
JOHN (to Lestrade): And you’re absolutely sure he’s our dead man from the alley?
LESTRADE: Positive. His flatmate’s already identified him at the morgue.
SHERLOCK (perking up his ears): His flatmate?
LESTRADE: Yep. (He takes out his notebook and reads from it.) The victim's Frank Sigrist, twenty-two, from Zurich. Mum’s an ex-opera singer herself, dad's a banker. (Looking up at Sherlock) So Count Walsegg’s finally got a real name now. (With a short laugh) What, are you telling me that’s news to you?
Sherlock just sits there staring at him. Lestrade, puzzled, looks around at the others for an explanation for that strange reaction, but they’re all looking at him with the same expressions of shocked surprise.
LESTRADE: Erm – anything I said?
JOHN (in a tone of disbelief): God. His own son?
MOLLY (shaking her head sadly): That really is mad.
MYCROFT: It’s certainly an interesting choice of priorities.
LESTRADE (rather annoyed): Why am I getting the feeling that I’m missing something?
SHERLOCK (ignoring Lestrade): Well, that explains how the Messenger knew about the whole scheme.
MOLLY (to Sherlock): And why he was so reluctant to reveal his identity to you. That can’t have been easy, to accuse his own dad of murder.
JOHN (to Sherlock): But we still don’t know what made him decide to finally go and see you without the hat and mask today.
Mycroft, seeing Lestrade getting more and more impatient, holds up his hand in a quieting gesture.
MYCROFT: Don’t work yourself up, Inspector, it could be detrimental to the healing process. It’ll all be explained in good time. Tell me now, have you alerted the parents yet?
LESTRADE: Oh yeah, sure. I talked to the mother on the phone. She said Frank was supposed to perform in a concert tomorrow, so she and her husband were coming to London anyway. They’ll want to take their son’s body home.
JOHN (frustrated): But he’ll never come now, of course. Far too risky.
SHERLOCK (confidently): Oh, on the contrary. He’ll come all the more certainly, to enjoy his triumph, now there’s nobody to stand in his way anymore. (To Mycroft) Or do I credit him with too much nerve there?
MYCROFT: Certainly not.
SHERLOCK (to John, in an enterprising tone): Well then, John, time to get out your good suit again. We’re going to another concert.
JOHN: What, the one Frank Sigrist was supposed to sing in? We don’t even know what it is.
SHERLOCK: Of course we know what it is. Lestrade will tell you.
LESTRADE (surprised): What?
SHERLOCK (impatiently): The next Mozart concert in town, Lestrade. Tomorrow evening, “The Salzburg Years – Mozart’s Early Chamber Music”, performed by students of the Royal College of Music at the –
LESTRADE (cottoning on): - Swiss Embassy. (Grumpily) I tried to tell you that two weeks ago, you know! That’s what happens when you don’t let people finish their sentences.
JOHN (resigned): And who’s going to bring us the tickets for that one?
SHERLOCK: Mycroft. For real this time. He’s already got them, courtesy of the generous sponsor.
Mycroft smiles grimly in confirmation.
JOHN: But even if Sigrist comes, what’s going to happen then? I mean, we’ve got nothing on him. There’s no evidence to link him to the Dies Irae crimes. All those fake builders need to do is keep their mouths shut when we ask who paid them. And even against them, there's circumstantial evidence at best.
SHERLOCK: Yes. Time we created some real proof, then.
LESTRADE: What, do we just sit still until that concert now?
SHERLOCK: No, we’ll go and save one more life first.
JOHN: I thought Sigrist was done with the Dies Irae?
SHERLOCK: He may not be done yet with eliminating potentially dangerous witnesses. People in close quarters do tend to share a thing or two, you know. (To Lestrade) Where’s your protective custody when people need it, Lestrade? This is your chance. (He puts his hands on his knees, and rises to his bare feet – not quite with his accustomed ease, but steadily enough now. To John) Come on, John.
JOHN (sceptically): You should get a proper once-over, you know. At least get those wrists bandaged.
SHERLOCK: Later. (Turning to Lestrade) The address, if you please.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, rather sharply): Where are you going?
SHERLOCK (snidely): God, you are slow these days, aren’t you, Mycroft?
Lestrade wordlessly holds his open notebook out to Sherlock to read.
SHERLOCK (glancing at the page): I thought so. That the flatmate's name?
LESTRADE: Yeah, a Tony Hammond. (To John and Molly) We brought him in to Barts not ten minutes after you'd left. He’d seemed almost relieved when the patrol turned up at their place. Told them Frank Sigrist had been in a right state that afternoon, fighting with his dad on the phone over something, and then stormed off, not saying where and why.
John and Molly exchange a look.
SHERLOCK (to Lestrade): So, you keep us updated if the builders make any move out of their lair. Knowing our villain's propensity for carefully created alibis, I doubt they will before the concert tomorrow night, though. (To Mycroft) And you see Molly here home safely first, but don’t be too far behind, alright?
He stoops, making a fairly respectable job of hiding the discomfort it causes him, picks up his socks and shoes, and starts marching out of the greenhouse, leaving the others behind in various stages of confusion and consternation.
JOHN (to Molly, quickly): That alright with you?
MOLLY: Yeah, sure. (She actually suppresses a yawn.) I think I’ve had quite enough adventures for today. But let me know how it ends, yeah?
JOHN (with a smile): As soon as it does.
He is about to follow Sherlock out when Lestrade holds him back.
LESTRADE: John, wait. (He digs into the inner pocket of his jacket, and takes out a transparent evidence bag that contains a folded sheet of paper.) Don’t tell anyone I’ve taken this outside the evidence room, but I’ve got a feeling we should find out what it means.
JOHN (looking pointedly after Sherlock): “We”?
LESTRADE (with a grin): No, your blog readers, of course.
JOHN (taking the bag and looking down at the paper inside it): Music, again.
JOHN: Where’s it from?
LESTRADE: It was in his bag when he was found.
JOHN: Alright. I'll be in touch when we've worked it out.
He pockets the evidence, then gives the three others a nod to share between them and walks towards the door, where Sherlock stands waiting for him. The moment he reaches it, all the lights suddenly go out with a loud click.
SHERLOCK’S VOICE: Party’s over!
Greenhouse picture from pixabay.com
Musical fragment by RubraSaetaFictor
Please note that the musical fragment is not a puzzle. Yet.
Recordare, Jesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuae viae:
Ne me perdas illa die.
Remember, merciful Jesus,
That I am the cause of Thy way,
Lest Thou abandon me on that day.
(Dies Irae, Verse 9)
INT. – A taxi, on the road in West London – NIGHT
Monday, 17 March 2014
John and Sherlock are sitting side by side in the back of a cab that is taking them through the dark city. John sits looking out of his window, lost in thought, apparently still digesting the revelations he’s just witnessed at Kew Gardens. Sherlock alternates between poring over the new piece of handwritten music that Greg Lestrade brought to the blind greenhouse, and staring into space, restlessly tapping his fingers on his knees, and sometimes silently moving his lips as if to test a possible solution to the code. John seems to have asserted his medical authority, and made sure they at least got hold of a first aid kit before leaving the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The gash on Sherlock's temple has been taped, and he has acquired what looks like an extra pair of shirt cuffs – neat white bandages around both wrist. He’s also presumably back in socks and shoes now. Only his coat is still missing.
JOHN (with a glance at the music sheet): It’s not in the same code that he used for the museum, is it?
SHERLOCK (a little absently): No… and it’s none of the other traditional musical codes, either. It's odd - this one actually makes sense harmonically, but I don't see a meaning there. D minor, E major, D minor, C major, F major…
JOHN (trying to read the letters as a word): Dedcf… not very promising, yeah.
Sherlock returns to his scrutiny of the paper, and his fingers return to their nervous twitching.
JOHN (seeing it, in a reassuring tone): Well, no need to get worked up – maybe sleep on it, and -
SHERLOCK (in a sudden outburst of frustration): Oh, I can't do that! It’s almost eleven already, I’m running out of time!
JOHN (taken aback): Out of time for what?
SHERLOCK: To make good on what I told Mycroft back at the greenhouse. That I’d solved his case before Tuesday.
JOHN: But you have! You worked it all out, the Dies Irae, and the Messenger, and –
SHERLOCK: That was our end of the case, John. What Mycroft wants is Sigrist’s list of the bank’s British customers, and we haven’t got our hands on that yet.
JOHN: Ah. So that’s why you were suddenly in such a hurry to get out of the greenhouse? (Nodding at the music paper) You think that’s the list?
SHERLOCK: No, it's too short to represent hundreds of names. But I’m willing to bet anything that these are instructions where to find it.
JOHN: In Frank Sigrist’s home, you mean? So that's why we're going there?
SHERLOCK: It's a starting point.
JOHN: I thought we were going to save another life.
SHERLOCK: Oh, yes, that too. (With a crooked smile) Verse Nine requires it, after all.
SHERLOCK: "Ne me perdas illa die", John. "Lest thou abandon me on that day.”
He returns his attention to the written music.
JOHN (under his breath, regretfully): Bit late for Frank Sigrist. (After a moment of silence) Do you really believe that Sigrist involved his own son in his crimes?
Sherlock shrugs. The cab slows down, then comes to a halt at the end of a suburban high street, deserted at this hour, and lit only faintly by street lamps and the night lights in the windows of the closed shops that line it.
JOHN (looking out): Hang on. This looks familiar. West Hampstead again?
SHERLOCK (pocketing the musical puzzle): I congratulate you on your sense of direction, John. We’re less than three hundred yards from what once was the Hedlunds’ house.
He moves to open the car door.
EXT. – High Street, West Hampstead, London – NIGHT
A moment later, Sherlock and John are at the door of a small terraced house near the end of the street, where the shops and offices have mostly given way to residential buildings. The house they're in front of is more modest than the one the Hedlunds lived in, but built in a similar style, with an iron railing separating it from the road, and a few steps leading up to the front door. There are no lights on in the windows. Sherlock rings the bell. In the quiet of the night, the sound carries. A moment later, the lamp above the door flickers on, and there are footsteps to be heard inside. Then they halt, and a quiet male voice speaks up.
MAN’S VOICE: Who’s there?
SHERLOCK: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.
There’s the rattle of the lock, and the front door opens. A man’s face appears in the gap - the almost boyish, smooth face of a young man in his mid-twenties at most, framed by short dark hair gelled up in fashionable spikes, and square black designer glasses. The man doesn't look surprised at his late visitors, let alone frightened, but his hunched posture and his strangely mask-like, unmoving face speak of some recent emotional turmoil that's left him weary and exhausted. It's difficult to tell with the glasses on, but his eyes seem puffy and red-rimmed, too.
SHERLOCK (to the man, in a rather reproachful tone): You do realise that anyone could have claimed to be me, don’t you?
YOUNG MAN: I, erm – (He clears his throat.) I know you from the news pictures.
SHERLOCK: Through the closed door? (He raises his hand to rap his knuckle experimentally against the wood.) Wouldn't stop a bullet, would it?
The young man winces at the mention of the word “bullet”. John looks from the young man to Sherlock and back again, and obviously decides that this conversation had better be steered into rather different waters.
JOHN (to the young man, in a deliberately conversational tone): So, you must be –
SHERLOCK (cutting across John, now in a tone of glaringly fake politeness): Ah, yes. Manners. (With a grand gesture, as if to make the introductions) John, meet the Grey Messenger.
The young man's face comes to life at this, looking no less surprised than John at being entitled thus.
JOHN (to Sherlock, after a moment): Are you saying this is Count Walsegg?
SHERLOCK (a little testily): No, John, listen. I said this was the Grey Messenger. Count Walsegg was Frank Sigrist. (To the young man) Isn’t that so?
YOUNG MAN (taken aback): Erm, well – I’ve –
SHERLOCK: - just remembered that it’s rude to keep visitors standing on the doorstep? Very good. We haven’t got all night.
He takes a step forward, veritably crowding the young man – evidently Frank Sigrists's flatmate, Tony Hammond - back into the house. Rather overwhelmed, Tony instinctively draws back, admitting Sherlock and John into
INT. – Frank Sigrist’s Home – NIGHT
To their right, a staircase leads up to the first floor. A narrow corridor takes them past it, with Tony leading the way. A door on their left gives access to the dark front room. There are two more doors further towards the back of the house, one of them standing half open to reveal a small kitchen.
JOHN (to Sherlock, while they walk along, in an undertone): Are you saying they were two people? Count Walsegg and the Messenger, I mean?
SHERLOCK: On Ash Wednesday when they came to us with the tickets, yes. Though Count Walsegg later usurped the Messenger’s role on Carmelite Street.
JOHN: How the hell did you know that?
Sherlock halts, and turns back towards his friend.
SHERLOCK: You should listen to your wife, John. You told me yourself that she thought there must have been two people, one to knock on our door and one to wait in the car for a quick and undetected escape. Quite true. Besides, historical accuracy demanded it, too.
Tony opens the door into the front room for them, and switches the light on. Sherlock, entering directly after him, reaches out with a long arm and immediately switches it off again.
SHERLOCK (to Tony, exasperatedly): You do want looking after, don't you?
He walks through the dark room to the large bay window facing the street, pulls the curtains firmly closed, and then nods to Tony to put the light back on. Tony obliges.
The overhead lights reveal a classically Victorian flat, with high ceilings, detailed mouldings, and an ornate mantel over the boarded-up fireplace, which seem jarringly anachronistic to the clutter and cheap IKEA furniture that otherwise fills the room.
A pile of shoes, boots, and cleats sit in a pile on the floor next to a threadbare black futon sofa, which is itself covered in several jackets and at least one pile of laundry, which is presumably clean, but yet to be folded. A second-hand armchair, more in style with the flat’s architecture, sits across the sofa, a newspaper draped across the right arm and a book shoved between the arm and the seat cushion. In the back corner of the room, an electronic piano has been set up, veritably buried under a spread of musical scores and scraps of music paper with handwritten notes, pens and pencils. There are even more stacks of musical scores on the floor underneath it.
Sherlock scans their surroundings with narrowed eyes, but John doesn't seem to have any attention to spare for them.
JOHN (to Sherlock): What do you mean, historical accuracy demanded it?
SHERLOCK: Oh, just that the real Count Walsegg never went to see Mozart in person, either. Quite apart from his illustrious social status, it would have endangered his incognito. (He looks Tony up and down in unconcealed appraisal, and then smiles almost indulgently.) The real Walsegg would have employed a trusted retainer for that task, too, just like ours did.
JOHN: Wouldn’t the cape and the mask have been enough disguise?
SHERLOCK: Mrs Hudson, John. She heard the messenger speak, and she couldn't be allowed to hear a foreign accent that could have identified him. But she would have, from a man whose English wasn’t good enough to get his prepositions right.
TONY (to Sherlock, in a more animated tone): So Frank did go to you again then, did he? Are you trying to find out who killed him? Do you know who killed him?
SHERLOCK: Yes, I do.
TONY (with a sudden, unexpectedly fierce note in his voice): And you're gonna catch the bastard?
SHERLOCK: With your help, yes.
TONY (eagerly): Tell me how.
Sherlock digs into the pocket of his jacket for the handwritten music found on Frank's body, and holds it out to Tony.
SHERLOCK: Seen this before?
TONY (taking the paper, thoughtfully): It's Frank's writing, of course... but I couldn't say I remember this one. (He indicates the electronic piano in the corner.) He always had hundreds of those bits and pieces lying around.
SHERLOCK: Any idea what it is?
TONY (shaking his head apologetically): Sorry, no. I can't read music.
Sherlock shrugs, apparently losing all interest in Tony now that he's been exhausted as a source of information. He strides over to the piano, sits down on the stool in front of it and starts going through the music on it, sorting and comparing and arranging the papers in at least six different stacks on the keyboard and on the carpet.
Tony and John remain standing by the door in a rather uncomfortable silence. John looks around the room as if for inspiration what to say next. To their left, a large flat-screen television has been mounted on the wall. Next to it, a poster has been tacked to the rather ugly, brownish wallpaper, depicting a football team in their jerseys, lined up on their pitch for an official group photo. A football scarf in the same colours that the players on the poster are wearing is draped above and on either side of it like a garland. John ambles over for a closer look - and his eyes narrow, suddenly alert.
JOHN: Erm, Mr Hammond -
JOHN: Tony. (He gestures at the football poster.) That’s David Hedlund’s club, isn’t it?
Tony's face lights up with a sudden, slightly embarrassed grin.
TONY: Yeah, I’m a big fan. Always been. Grew up a stone’s throw from their stadium.
JOHN (tentatively): And, erm – Frank, was he a fan, too?
TONY: Oh no. Not a chance, in that family. (He pauses, as if to make up his mind whether to say more or not. But then suddenly the floodgates open, and he plunges headlong into his tale, obviously glad to be talking to someone at last.) You should have seen Frank's dad when he came visiting a couple of weeks ago, how he turned up his nose at this. (He nods at the poster.) “Have you gone and got his autograph yet?” Sigrist senior asked me, but it wasn't meant nicely, I could tell he was making fun of me. He’s always like that, you know, always enjoying making people feel small and stupid. He told me Hedlund lived only a street away from us, and that it’d be worth going for a glimpse of his wife Sybilla alone, at least if I was into busty blondes - that sort of comment was totally him, too, you know. I thought that was a joke, of course, them living practically next door – I never knew that, not until it was all over the news. But anyway, Frank said to his dad, “I didn’t know you were into football”, and Sigrist senior went “God forbid,” in that favourite snobbish tone of his. He said the Hedlunds were customers of his. He runs a bank, Frank’s dad, but you probably know that. Stepdad, actually, I should say. Anyway, he went on to make remarks about football fans and their horrible chants being an insult to a musically refined ear and stuff like that –
JOHN: Sigrist senior was Frank’s stepfather? Not his real father?
TONY: Yeah, Sigrist adopted him when Frank's mum remarried. Frank was still under age at the time, never got a say in it.
JOHN: You’d say he’d have protested if he could?
TONY (with a shrug): Well, one thing’s for sure, there was never any love lost between the two of them. Really, I’ve only known Frank for a year and a half, but I sometimes think that neither of his parents really understood him.
Sherlock, his examination of the music on the piano concluded, now sits cross-legged on the carpet to go through the musical scores stacked underneath it. He glances at the titles – they seem to be mostly operas and lieder – and puts them aside again quickly one after the other, until he arrives at the same edition of Mozart’s Requiem that he himself has been studying at Baker Street. He flicks it open at the first page of the Dies Irae sequence. Both the text and the music are covered with notes in black ink. Some words in the lyrics are underlined, such as the names “David” and “Sybilla” in the first verse. The word “judex”, for “judge”, in the second verse has been circled, and three question marks put next to it, but the question marks have been crossed out again. Sherlock quickly turns the pages. In the “Tuba Mirum”, the word “tuba” for “trumpet” is circled and adorned with crossed-out question marks, too.
Sherlock closes his eyes for a moment, then sets the score aside, rises to his feet and picks up a simple black fountain pen from among the other pens on the piano. It’s nothing like Mycroft’s fancy ones, but when Sherlock pulls off the cap, the nib looks conspicuously like the one that Sherlock identified as the most likely candidate during his calligraphy exercises at Baker Street. He picks up a random scrap of music paper, scribbles a couple of notes onto it and nods to himself in satisfaction. Then he caps the pen again, and puts it in his pocket.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the room, John and Tony continue their conversation.
JOHN: How do you mean, his parents didn’t understand him?
TONY: I know it's odd – Frank loves his music as much as they do, even more, maybe, but not in the same way. See, his mum, she was quite famous in her day, at the opera, so they wanted Frank to have a glittering career like that, too. And Frank really has a beautiful voice, but he isn't made for the limelight. He gets terribly nervous in front of an audience. Totally tongue-tied, literally. He failed his exams at the Royal Collage last year because of that, even though he's tried everything to get over it, therapy and all. It's no good.
JOHN (surprised): He literally suffered from stage fright?
Slightly concerned, he glances across to Sherlock, but Sherlock, absorbed again in the examination of Frank’s music, doesn’t seem to have heard.
TONY: Yeah, he'd be much happier if people just left him alone. He could be a composer, you know – he's got his head full of music all the time. (He points at the piano corner, where Sherlock is still busy poking around Frank's things.) Hears a tune on the radio, or in the shops, and goes home to write a whole cantata off it. He even won a prize for a song of his once. Variations on – something, I forgot. (Bitterly) But all his dad does is go on about what a disappointment he is, and that he just has to get a grip on himself and work harder, and he could be a superstar then. Last thing I heard, his dad was threatening to cut Frank's allowance if he didn't make the exams this time around.
JOHN: Frank depended on his parents financially?
TONY: Entirely, yeah. In terms of money, he got everything he needed and more, but they made sure he knew it was all just an advance, and that he still had to deliver.
JOHN: And you? You're not a musician yourself?
TONY (with a short laugh): Not at all. (Ruefully) Or else I'd have known what role I was playing that night, when we first went to Baker Street. I'd no idea.
JOHN: He asked you to play the Grey Messenger, but you didn't know what that meant?
TONY: He never called it that. He just came to pick me up from work that night, like on all Wednesdays, but he was late, and in a tearing hurry, and in a right state, too. He'd got the costume with him, and an envelope, and he said we'd have to stop somewhere on the way home. He said it was really important to him, but when I asked what it was all about, he said he wasn't sure himself yet, and then just clammed up. He does that, Frank, he’ll get an idea in his head, a bit of a song or something that’s bothering him, and won’t talk until he’s figured it out. So I humoured him. He drove. I put on the costume and did what he told me, rang the bell and gave the envelope to your landlady. I thought it was a letter.
Sherlock turns away from the piano to face the others.
SHERLOCK (to Tony): Had he been at home, that afternoon, before he came to pick you up at work?
TONY: Yeah, I think so.
JOHN (to Sherlock): So Frank happened to pass the Hedlunds' burning house that afternoon on his way back into town, heard from the bystanders whose place it was, put two and two together, freaked out, and ran to get the costume and the tickets?
SHERLOCK: Very likely, yes. That house is on the direct route from here to the next tube station. (Sarcastically) Eighty-five percent of all capital crimes world-wide could be solved within three days if it weren't for that unfortunate reluctance of family members to divulge their valuable insider knowledge to the police straight away. Nobody would say that it's alright to shield a murderer if you put the question to them directly, but once it's all about their husbands and fathers and brothers, different standards apply. There must be a hidden evolutionary advantage of that phenomenon that scientists have failed to uncover so far, because what else could be the point?
John pulls a face. Tony is dumbstruck for a moment, but then he finds his voice again.
TONY: You mean Frank knew who had set that house on fire, but didn't tell the police? Is that why he got killed?
SHERLOCK: He made an excellent guess, at least.
Tony sinks down on the nearby sofa and puts his face into his hands.
TONY: And I didn't see that.
His shoulders start twitching as he starts crying quietly. Sherlock rolls his eyes at the ceiling, but stops again at a sharp, almost angry look from John. John jerks his head at the mass of papers by the piano, silently ordering Sherlock to go back to what he does best, and leave Tony to him. Sherlock shrugs, and starts putting all the scores and papers back into one single stack. Tony sniffles, and then raises his tear-stained face to John again.
TONY: He never told me. Never a word. He was acting odd all the time, after that day. I could tell something was eating him, but he never wanted to talk about it. So I just kind of gave up after a while. But now – (The tears start flowing again.) - now I think that he didn't trust me.
John regards the crying Tony for a moment, his brows drawn together, then squares his shoulders, squats down next to Tony, and puts a comforting hand on his arm.
JOHN (quietly): I think that he was trying to protect you.
At the other end of the room, Sherlock has picked up the Mozart score again. His eyes are on a page, but at John’s words, he freezes, waiting with held breath. John, apparently oblivious to Sherlock’s reaction, continues to speak to Tony.
JOHN: For all we know of him, Frank could have been racked with guilt over involving you in the Grey Messenger business in the first place, and was doing his best after that to keep you out of the rest of it. To keep you safe, you know.
Sherlock, still unnoticed by the other two, lets out a carefully controlled, long low breath of relief. Tony nods, gratefully grasping at the scrap of comfort John is offering him, and blows his nose. John glances across at Sherlock then, but he has already returned to his reading with an excellent impression of complete unconcern.
JOHN (changing the subject): What did you mean, by the way, Frank was “acting odd”?
TONY: Little things. I walked in on him going through my wallet, about a week ago – Thursday last week, I think. That's something he’d normally never do. He said he had to go back into town for a late rehearsal, but he'd mislaid his Oyster card. Of course I told him to take mine. And of course Frank put it back, because everything was in order again the next morning, and he kept apologising, too, but somehow, I dunno, it didn't sound real. I mean, bank cards, key card, the whole shooting match – you don’t just fiddle with someone else’s stuff like that without asking.
JOHN (raising his eyebrows questioningly): Key card?
TONY: Yeah, for work.
JOHN: So what do you do for a living?
SHERLOCK (looking up from the score, impatiently): Oh come on, John, that's perfectly obvious.
JOHN (grumpily): To you, maybe.
TONY: I'm an accountant, in the City.
SHERLOCK (to John): With Jameson and Watt, at number five Carmelite Street. But with the wrong hair colour, so he fell through the cracks.
JOHN: Bloody hell.
TONY (puzzled): What?
SHERLOCK: Never mind. (Snapping the score closed, in a deliberately business-like tone) I need to see Frank's other papers as well. And his computer.
Tony indicates the closed double doors separating the living room from the room towards the back of the house.
TONY: In the bedroom.
Sherlock walks across with the Mozart score under his arm , opens the door and disappears through it, leaving it open behind him.
JOHN (to Tony): So – what other odd things did Frank do lately?
TONY (picking up his tale again readily): He was jumpy all the time. Always been a tense kind of guy, one of those people that find it hard to wind down. So at first I put it down to the upcoming concert – he was supposed to sing an aria at a college concert tomorrow. But it's never been that bad before. He, I dunno, he just closed in. I really couldn't get through to him anymore. He got obsessed with following the news, too. He'd never been interested in that either, but ever since the Hedlunds, he kept checking the news sites, compulsively almost, as if he thought something like that would happen again. And only today, he brought in The Sun, which neither of us ever reads.
JOHN: Did he say anything about the headline?
TONY: No. (He nods towards the newspaper lying on the arm of the chair.) I only saw it there this afternoon. We've both got Monday afternoons off, and we were going to take it easy, watch a movie, maybe take a walk on the Heath, you know, just relax. But we never got round to any of that. When Frank got home, with that newspaper in his hand, he just dropped it and went straight into the bedroom, locked himself in and called his dad. Then he shouted at him for ten minutes straight, which is something the Frank that I knew would never have dared. And then he ran out again, still fuming, but with never a word to me. (His eyes are glistening again.) And that's the last I saw of him.
JOHN: Did you hear what he was shouting about?
TONY (shaking his head): No. I know very little German, and with that weird Swiss dialect of theirs, I'm lost. There was only one thing that I understood clearly.
JOHN: What was it?
TONY (nodding towards the door Sherlock has just disappeared through): His name.
There is a silence for the moment. Then, as if on cue, Sherlock pokes his head back into the living room.
SHERLOCK (to John, disapprovingly): No more time for idle chit-chat, John. Mr Hammond should be packing.
SHERLOCK (loftily): Yes, of course. Didn’t I say so? Well, never mind, it should have been obvious without express instructions. (To Tony) You’re going away for a bit.
TONY (puzzled): What? Away? Where?
SHERLOCK (vaguely): Oh, somewhere out of town. Nice and quiet, all expenses covered. Will feel like a holiday. Come on, get ready. There’s a car coming for you in half an hour at most, and I wouldn’t advise you to keep them waiting.
He disappears again. Tony, more disquieted than reassured, looks across at John.
TONY: This is about Frank, then?
JOHN (to Tony): Yes. And I’d do what Sherlock says. He’s usually got a point. Come on, I'll give you a hand.
Tony nods, if a little half-heartedly, and rises to his feet. They follow Sherlock into the bedroom.
INT. – Frank’s Sigrist’s Home – The Bedroom - NIGHT
The bedroom – the only bedroom of the small flat - is furnished simply, like the living room, and dominated by a large but plain double bed. There are mis-matched bedside tables on either side of it, both furnished with reading lamps, alarm clocks, tissue boxes, dog-eared paperbacks and other bedroom paraphernalia. Under the window is a chest of drawers. A framed photograph has been set up on top of it, showing Frank Sigrist and Tony Hammond side by side on a beach in happier days, both of them tanned, with windswept hair and identical broad smiles on their faces. Next to the picture, a towering stack of clothes has been set up, consisting of several folded shirts and jeans. One of the doors of the large wardrobe by the far wall stands open, the shelves swept clear, empty coat-hangers dangling from the rack.
John looks across at Sherlock with a frown, as if for confirmation that Sherlock has really had the impertinence to start and pack Tony's overnight bag for him. But Sherlock, in the corner by a small desk, is busy opening and closing drawers and rummaging through the clutter in them, and doesn’t respond.
Tony walks over to the wardrobe, opens the other door and pulls out a black sports bag. He places it on the bed, then takes a handful of neatly folded t-shirts and rolled-up socks out of the chest of drawers. He's about to place them in the bag when he suddenly sinks down on the edge of the bed and shakes his head.
TONY (in a pitiful tone): I can't do that. I can't just go away now.
He's close to tears again.
JOHN (to Tony): You know, I'm sure Frank would have wanted you to be safe -
TONY (quickly): I know, it's not that. But I promised his parents -
At this, Sherlock looks around sharply.
SHERLOCK: You talked to his parents?
TONY: Yeah, on the phone, just before you came. To his mum, that is. Thank God. I don't think I could stand his dad right now. She said they're coming to London to take him back home, for – (He swallows.) But they want all his things, too, of course. So she asked me to put all his stuff together for them. They're sending someone to pick it up tomorrow. (Gesturing at the half-empty wardrobe) I've already made a start. (Quietly) It was better than trying to sleep, anyway.
He glances at the framed photograph on the chest of drawers, and the corners of his mouth start twitching again.
JOHN (feelingly): They're not coming here themselves? They don't even want to talk to you?
TONY (hastily): No, no, it's not as bad as it sounds. (He sniffs.) They don't know. About us, I mean. Frank wanted it that way. His dad would never have approved. And I didn't want even more trouble for him. There are more students living upstairs, so when Frank's parents came visiting, I was always just one more of those. (Wiping away a tear) It's okay, really... easier this way...
John, looking extremely unconvinced, shakes his head in sympathy.
SHERLOCK: Did they say who's coming to collect Frank's things?
TONY: No. Just “two helpers”.
Sherlock and John exchange a pointed look.
SHERLOCK: When exactly?
TONY: Eight tomorrow night.
SHERLOCK: And did they say what to pack?
TONY: Everything. Clothes, books, music, papers, everything that belonged to Frank.
JOHN (alarmed): They're trying to erase the evidence.
SHERLOCK (with a snort): What evidence there is.
TONY (looking back and forth between them, confused): What?
Sherlock picks up the laptop from the desk.
SHERLOCK (to Tony): The police confiscated that, in case anyone asks. (To John, with a dismissive gesture at the desk) The rest is worthless.
TONY (to Sherlock, rather hurt): Not to someone who cared about him! Don't you see that I can't just leave now? His parents may not be nice people, but they've got a right to his things. And this is my last chance, too… before it’s all gone --
Tony’s voice breaks again. Sherlock regards Tony for a moment with his head cocked to one side and his eyes narrowed, as if struck by a sudden brilliant idea.
SHERLOCK: You said you wanted to help catch the killer, didn't you?
Tony nods, but John, sensing what's coming, immediately intervenes.
JOHN: Sherlock, don't.
SHERLOCK (ignoring John, to Tony): You're definitely not going to call that appointment off. On the contrary. You'll make absolutely sure that the Sigrists will have no reason to doubt that it will all go ahead exactly as planned.
JOHN (firmly): Sherlock, no! We know they stop at nothing, you can't use him to -
SHERLOCK (with a sudden grin): Who's talking about him? (He steps forward to where Tony is still sitting on the edge of the bed.) May I?
Without waiting for permission, Sherlock takes Tony's black-rimmed glasses off, then runs his fingers over Tony's head, flattening the spiky hair and brushing it to one side. Then he takes the flabbergasted Tony by the shoulders and turns him to face a no less surprised John. Without his glasses on, and with a more conservative hairstyle, Tony looks like the spitting image of a slightly younger DI Dimmock.
INT. – 221B Baker Street – The Sitting Room – NIGHT
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
It's after midnight. The flat is dark, except for a lone lamp in the corner behind John's armchair, and the dim flicker of the television. Mary Morstan is sitting curled up in John's chair. She’s attempting to watch the TV programme – there seems to be a repeat of a home decorating show on that would send anyone to sleep even in broad daylight - and she keeps nodding off and being jolted awake by the weight of her own head. She finally reaches for the remote control to switch of the TV, then wriggles into a more comfortable position, resting her head on her hand and allowing her eyes to slowly close. The flat sits in silence for a while, before it is broken by the sound of Sherlock and John coming up the stairs.
JOHN (off-screen): And you're sure Sigrist's henchmen will turn up at Frank's place at all, if he didn't keep anything incriminating there anyway?
SHERLOCK (off-screen): They can't know that.
Sherlock pushes open the door to the flat, still talking over his shoulder to John.
SHERLOCK: They'll have to come for the laptop alone.
He enters the room, carrying the object in question and Frank's copy of the Requiem score. John follows.
JOHN: But there's nothing on that, either. You've just spent the whole ride back muttering that it was hardly worth figuring out the password.
SHERLOCK: Sigrist can't afford that risk.
He tosses the laptop onto the seat of his own armchair. The noise of it landing wakes Mary.
MARY (startled): Oh!
Sherlock and John spot her in John's chair at the same time.
JOHN: Mary! What are you doing here?
MARY (rubbing her eyes): You said you’d gone to meet Sherlock and I assumed you’d end up here. (She looks at her watch.) But that was hours ago.
JOHN (with an apologetic smile): Yeah. I also said “don't wait up”.
Mary dismisses that with a gesture of her hand, then looks across to Sherlock – and immediately notices his injuries.
MARY (concerned): What happened? Is everything alright?
SHERLOCK (simultaneously): No.
JOHN (quickly): He’s fine. We're just still looking for a list now.
SHERLOCK (sarcastically): Oh, yeah. Just a list. It's the key, John, don't you see it? (He holds up Frank's Requiem score.) He'd marked all the right words, in every verse. He knew what was going on.
MARY (confused): Sorry, who?
JOHN (to Mary, with a sigh): Count Walsegg.
MARY (sitting up straight, immediately alert): You've got him?
JOHN: Yeah. In the morgue.
MARY: Oh. (To Sherlock) You've solved it then? The Dies Irae crimes?
SHERLOCK (irritated): No!
JOHN (firmly): Yes, he did. It turns out that Mycroft goaded a mad banker into offing his own customers with a bad bluff.
MARY: I’m sorry, what?
JOHN: Mycroft was negotiating with a Swiss bank about some British customers using their services to avoid taxes. Their director decided to negotiate back by killing some of those customers to warn Mycroft to keep his hands off his bank.
MARY (drily): Helluva negotiator.
JOHN: And then he also killed his own stepson to keep him from telling Sherlock all about it. That was our Count Walsegg.
MARY: But what’s all this about a list?
JOHN: Mycroft still wants a list of the bank's British customers, so they can be prosecuted. We're just back from turning the Messenger's home upside down trying to find it.
MARY: But why would he have a list of his stepfather’s customers? Did he work for the bank? (To Sherlock) I thought you said he was a music student.
SHERLOCK (stubbornly): He had to have it, otherwise how would he have known to warn us about Stepansky?
JOHN: But he didn’t warn us about Stepansky.
SHERLOCK (impatiently): “Danger in the museum”, John!
JOHN: If he knew it was about the director, why not mention that?
SHERLOCK: He was trying to be discreet?
JOHN: The code was discreet, it was already in code, there was no point in being more cryptic than that.
SHERLOCK: You’re saying he just happened to guess correctly that “nature coming to life” was going to happen at the Natural History Museum?
JOHN: He saw the Hedlunds' house burning and thought to buy those Requiem tickets for you straight away. Didn’t lack imagination, that one. And you know, we've all been doing a lot of guesswork for this case, too, but we were right every time.
SHERLOCK (frustrated): We were late every time.
MARY (to Sherlock): Well, it makes sense. You said you didn’t get any warnings about the Judge, or the Commander, or Walker. Your Messenger sounds like a clever bloke, with his codes and all. If he'd had a list with their names, he'd have figured the crimes out in advance, wouldn't he? So if you didn't get a warning for those, it must have been because he didn't know who exactly was going to be targeted.
JOHN: Maybe that’s why he didn’t go to the police, either. He thought he saw a pattern, and knowing his temper, he thought maybe it was his father and his bank behind that, but he couldn't be sure.
MARY: Until Kitty Riley’s article confirmed that there was a pattern. (To Sherlock) But there, it looked like you had it all wrong with the Catholic conspiracy stuff, so he went to see you today to put you on the right track again.
JOHN (sadly): And finally had all his suspicions confirmed by three bullets in the chest.
SHERLOCK (snappishly): I know!
JOHN: But don’t you see what that means, that he accused his father openly only when he himself was dying? Frank never had the whole picture, Sherlock. He was guessing, just like we were. It's not like Sigrist would have needed Frank’s help to find out the details he needed about the lives of his customers. He had their addresses, and they’re all well-known people that you can easily look up on the internet, find their profession, their workplaces, the events they attend… So why make his son an accessory to murder at all? What makes you so sure that's what he was?
SHERLOCK: The codes, John. Mary's right, he was clever. He was one step ahead of us all the time. If he was on his way to convince me of his father's guilt today, then he can't have come empty handed. We know he didn't. (He pulls the handwritten music he got from Lestrade out of his pocket.) This must be the proof to get Sigrist. We just have to figure it out!
He walks over to the desk, puts the Requiem score aside and spreads the music paper flat on the table. Mary joins him to look, but John hangs back, looking very sceptical.
MARY: That looks rather repetitive.
SHERLOCK: Perhaps it’s another skip code and we’re only supposed to pay attention to every third or fourth or fifth note.
JOHN (slowly losing his patience): Sherlock, you’ve been looking at that supposed “code” all night...
Sherlock grabs a pen from the table and begins to scribble notes in the margin.
SHERLOCK (muttering to himself): Cabbage, baggage... no....Maybe it’s to do with the physics, rather than the harmonies... On a standard piano, the frequencies would be –
He raises his eyes to some spot on the ceiling, calculations visibly chasing each other in his head. Mary and John exchange a concerned look.
MARY (placing her hand gently on Sherlock’s): Sherlock, he was a music student, right? Maybe it’s just music.
SHERLOCK (pulling his hand and the music away from Mary, almost petulantly): He wouldn’t have died without leaving me some clue!
JOHN: You can’t solve everything, Sherlock.
SHERLOCK (desperately): Yes, I can! (Feverishly) I just need more time, I need... (In an outburst of frustration) I can’t fail again!
John and Mary exchange a concerned look, then John directs his focus on his friend again.
JOHN (calmly): Is this about the bonfire, Sherlock?
SHERLOCK (distractedly): What? No, that's got nothing to do with -
JOHN: I think it has, in a way. You know, if there's nothing to go on, there is nothing to go on. Just like back in November. So stop beating yourself up over that at least, please.
SHERLOCK (sullenly): I haven’t given up yet!
JOHN: I know. I know you wouldn’t. But - (He squares his shoulders and clears his throat.) I want you to know that it matters much less to me who put me in there than who pulled me out.
There's a silence. Sherlock stares at John as if he can't quite believe what he's just heard. Mary, behind Sherlock's back, smiles, half-anxiously but half-relieved, too, her eyes going back and forth between the two friends. Then Sherlock comes to life again, and opens his mouth to respond, but John has already turned to where Sherlock's violin case sits gathering dust on the coffee table. He takes the violin and bow out, and holds them out to his friend.
JOHN: And now just try it as music.
Sherlock almost automatically takes the violin. He walks over to the music stand, smoothing out Frank's fragment on it, quickly tests the tuning of his instrument and then pulls his bow across the strings, his fingers racing across the fingerboard as he plays a rhythmic series of broken chords that ends abruptly.
Sherlock lowers the violin slowly, but doesn't turn back towards John and Mary.
SHERLOCK: Oh. Oh. Of course.
All his tension, all his restlessness and agitation seem to have suddenly evaporated. A strange kind of almost eerie calm takes their place now.
JOHN: What, what is it?
SHERLOCK (talking to the music stand): It’s obvious, isn’t it?
Mary and John look at each other. Mary shrugs and shakes her head.
JOHN (with a frown): It’s vaguely familiar.
SHERLOCK (turning around sharply): Come on, John, it’s only been two weeks!
He starts improvising a slow, rather mournful tune on his violin, which then suddenly merges into Frank's music, and then turns into the slower tune again, until Sherlock suddenly breaks off.
SHERLOCK (to John, almost pleadingly): You do get it now, don't you?
JOHN (apologetically): Sorry, I really don't.
Mary takes out her phone.
MARY: Listen, guys, it's getting awfully late, and John and I have to work morning shift tomorrow. (To Sherlock, holding up her phone) OK if we take a version of it home with us, and brood over it again after a good night's sleep?
The Personal Blog of Dr John H. Watson
Musical puzzle #3
So, Mary recorded Sherlock on her phone - sorry about the bad audio quality - and I'm putting this up here because he's driving us nuts saying I MUST know what it is, but I really don't.
Help us out, anyone? What is this piece of music?
Violin music by Jolie_Black via noteflight.com
YouTube video by RubraSaetaFictor (violin picture from pixabay.com)
Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus.
Tearful will be that day,
On which from the ash arises
The guilty man who is to be judged.
Spare him therefore, God.
(Dies Irae, Final Verse)
EXT. – Montagu Place, Marylebone, London – NIGHT
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
On the corner of Montagu Place and Bryanston Square, in front of the Embassy of Switzerland, cabs and private limousines are queuing to drop off their passengers. A steady stream of people, some of them very festively dressed, is moving towards the illuminated entrance of the neo-classical building, filling the air with expectant chatter.
From the next cab that pulls up, Sherlock and John emerge. John is in his engagement suit again, the same that he wore to the Requiem concert a fortnight ago. And Sherlock has pulled out the stops on his own level, too, wearing a trim black evening suit with a crisply pleated white shirt with small black buttons, and a black bow tie. The edge of a sharply-pressed white linen pocket square peeks out of his breast pocket. The only detail that mars his otherwise impeccably elegant appearance are the bandages around his wrists that show inside his shirt cuffs. He’s arranged his hair to hide the gash in his temple, and he holds himself as upright as always, giving no indication that he’s had quite a battering only twenty-four hours before.
The two friends walk towards the large door of the embassy that stands wide open to welcome the concert audience, but Sherlock makes no move to enter just yet. Instead, he checks his watch, then looks enquiringly around the little square.
SHERLOCK: Either they’re making a much better job of keeping out of sight than I thought them capable of, or they’re late.
JOHN (in an undertone): Greg and his people?
Just outside the entrance, under the large Swiss flag adorning it, a hostess in a smart dress, and with a rather fixed smile on her face, is handing out concert programmes to all new arrivals, while on the other side of the passage – with his back to Sherlock and John - a tall black man in an unobtrusive dark suit is evidently eyeing every person that enters the building for any potential security risks. John nods towards the security guard.
JOHN (still in an undertone): Now tell me how I’m supposed to get past that one. (With a crooked grin) I suppose he can’t make a fuss about every little Swiss Army knife. But he looks like he won’t miss something more serious.
SHERLOCK (with a smile): Oh, he’ll recognise a colleague straight away, I’m sure.
As if on cue, the man in charge of the security turns in their direction – and is revealed to be Mr Plummer, the same aide of Mycroft's who came to collect Judge Talbot’s files from Sherlock at Baker Street only a day earlier. He immediately spots the two friends, but gives no open sign of recognition – just the smallest, almost imperceptible nod, to John rather than to Sherlock. Sherlock gives John a quick but very satisfied sidelong glance. John looks both relieved and impressed.
Sherlock and John return to watching the new arrivals – an incongruous mixture of the crème de la crème of the Swiss expat community in London, casually dressed music students come to cheer on their fellows, and assorted classical music lovers that fall into neither category. Sherlock takes out a brand new phone.
JOHN (immediately alert): News from West Hampstead?
SHERLOCK: No… ten to eight, too early. (He fiddles with a button on the side of his phone.) You got yours on silence this time?
JOHN (a bit miffed): Yes.
SHERLOCK: Good. It would ruin the effect if our phones were all to go off at once.
John, puzzled, seems on the verge of asking for clarification, but then thinks better of it.
JOHN: Well, let’s just hope Dimmock’s as good an actor as a trombone player.
SHERLOCK (drily): Let’s hope he’s a better. (His eyes travel across to the kerb, where a black saloon car with tinted windows has just pulled up.) Ah, finally!
The back door of the car opens, and out gets Mycroft Holmes - wearing an outfit that’s exactly identical to Sherlock's, down to the last detail. He baulks when he sees his brother, but recovers his composure quickly. While he approaches them, raising a very critical eyebrow, Sherlock pointedly checks his watch again.
SHERLOCK: You’re cutting it fine, brother dear. Did your taste for drama require keeping your own personal welcome committee on tenterhooks for ten minutes straight, or have you really not managed to fix the London traffic yet?
MYCROFT (enigmatically): I've fixed it exactly the way we need it.
JOHN (to Sherlock, with a short bark of laughter): What, now you're calling Mycroft dramatic?
SHERLOCK (to John): You should have seen him in our childhood pantomimes. He left no piece of scenery un-chewed.
Mycroft clears his throat unnecessarily loudly.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft): Well, ready for the final curtain, then? Everyone in place, I hope?
MYCROFT (in an undertone): Round the back in Bryanston Mews East.
SHERLOCK: Good. (With a smile) Tantus labor non sit cassus.
MYCROFT (sceptically): Well, you take care you play your own role convincingly. (Looking his brother up and down in disapproval) I never thought I’d congratulate John on his sense of occasion in a sartorial matter. How you can hope to pass for my bodyguard in this is beyond me.
SHERLOCK (lightly): I'm not your bodyguard. I wouldn't take orders from you even for show. John’s your bodyguard. And Mr Moneypenny’s already looking conspicuous enough with just the one.
MYCROFT (exasperated): Then what exactly are you?
SHERLOCK (with a broad grin): Your plus one. (He links arms with his – momentarily dumbfounded – brother, and steers him into the direction of the entrance. Cheerfully) Come on, gorgeous.
Mycroft raises his eyes to the heavens with a long-suffering sigh, but lets himself be led inside the building.
INT. - Embassy of Switzerland - Concert Hall - NIGHT
The festively lit upstairs foyer of the embassy building – a magnificent space with a shiny marble floor reflecting the light from the chandeliers and five large windows looking out over Bryanston Square - has been transformed into a small concert hall. Many rows of plush chairs upholstered with red velvet have been set up in it, facing a stage with a glossy black grand piano at one end of the room. An additional four chairs and four music stands, arranged in a semi-circle, are waiting for a string quartet to take their places there.
The seats for the audience are almost all taken, but there are still some late comers making their way up the broad staircase from the ground floor. In an inconspicuous place in the very last row, Mycroft and Sherlock, looking slightly ridiculous in their twin outfits, have taken seats next to each other, Mycroft still looking a little sour, Sherlock beaming with anticipation. Mycroft appears to be studying the concert programme. Sherlock is scanning the audience. John is nowhere to be seen.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft): Maybe we should be holding hands.
Mycroft gives his brother a sideways glance that clearly says “over my dead body”, but doesn't deign to reply.
SHERLOCK (in a very different tone, suddenly business-like): Front row, greying blond hair, deep tan?
MYCROFT (without looking up): Mmh.
Just then, the person in question – none other than Urban Beat Sigrist himself - rises from his seat at the front of the hall to greet a newly arrived couple, giving Sherlock and Mycroft a good view of him. He's a man in his late fifties, wiry and tall, with a face so deeply tanned that it looks almost leathery, and with once blond, now greying hair combed back neatly off his high forehead. Like many of the other guests, he is in evening dress. Clinging to his arm is a lady with platinum blonde hair, carefully made-up and coiffed but clearly past her prime. She wears a comparatively modest black dress that makes her skin look very pale in contrast, and clutches a lace handkerchief in her hand.
The pair of new arrivals stands out strongly among the other guests – by their particularly festive attire, and also by the way everyone moves aside deferentially to let them through to their places of honour. They are a genially smiling, rotund man around sixty with ruddy cheeks, the jacket of his evening suit adorned with a collection of medals and ribbons in all shapes and colours, and an equally plump and cheerful lady of a similar age, dressed in electric blue silk and decked out in an abundance of pearls – clearly the Swiss ambassador to the United Kingdom and his wife. The men shake hands cordially, apparently well-acquainted and at ease with each other. Sigrist appears rather subdued. He doesn’t smile, and responds to what appear to be concerned enquiries on the part of the ambassador with very few words and a distinct expression of controlled but deep emotional turmoil on his face.
SHERLOCK (to Mycroft, appreciatively): He's good.
MYCROFT: We know that.
Meanwhile, the ambassador's wife is embracing Mrs Sigrist tenderly. Mrs Sigrist can be seen to dab at her eyes with her handkerchief. Then all four of them take their places, next to each other in the front row.
All the seats are filled now, and an expectant hush descends on the room. The two last persons to come up the stairs are John Watson and Mycroft’s aide Plummer, now both looking very authentic in their roles. They remain standing just at the head of the stairs, one on either side, with their hands linked behind their backs and very professional neutral-to-bored expressions on their faces. Sherlock, glancing across at John’s excellent impersonation of an ex-military man turned private security guard, smiles with almost proprietary pride.
On the stage, however, there is no indication that the concert is about to begin any time soon. At the side of the room, by the windows, a little group of musicians has gathered, talking among themselves in an excited undertone. They are three young people, two of them holding violins and one of them a viola. The fourth is a man fifteen or twenty years older, bearded and bespectacled, who appears to be their tutor. The tutor checks his watch, shaking his head.
At the back of the room, Mycroft takes out his own pocket watch and glances at it. It's at seven minutes past eight. He and Sherlock exchange a pointed look, content rather than worried.
By the stage, the tutor now walks across to where Sigrist and the Swiss ambassador are sitting. He bends down and exchanges a few anxious words with them. They listen, then nod, and the ambassador gets to his feet. While the tutor returns to the students and gestures to them to sit down and wait, the ambassador turns to face the audience.
SWISS AMBASSADOR: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen - or Grüezi miteinand, as we say back home in Switzerland. It is an honour and a pleasure to welcome you all to this evening’s concert, on behalf of the Bankhaus König’s sponsorship programme for gifted young musicians. (He gestures at Mr and Mrs Sigrist in the front row.) I'm sure you will all forgive Mr and Mrs Sigrist for not speaking to you personally today. As some of you may already know, their son Frank should have been among us tonight, celebrating the music and the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But it was not to be. Like Mozart, he was taken from us far too soon. (There’s a murmur of dismay and sympathy all across the audience. The ambassador turns back to the Sigrists.) But thank you for coming to join us here tonight in spite of your grief, Marianne – Urban –
He inclines his head towards them in acknowledgement. They return the gesture, Mrs Sigrist dabbing at her eyes again. Mr Sigrist pats his wife’s arm comforingly.
MYCROFT (to Sherlock, grudgingly): He is good.
AMBASSADOR (checking his own watch, slightly puzzled): And now, it was the intention of our young performers here to treat you to Mozart’s Divertimento in D major straight away, but they’re still missing their cellist. (He gives the students' tutor a questioning look. The man shrugs helplessly.) There seems to be -
At this exact moment, a phone goes off somewhere at the back of the audience – a very loud and ugly beeping tone that cuts the ambassador short and makes all heads turn towards the source of it, everyone looking annoyed at this rude disruption. The phone is Sherlock's. He takes the call, rising to his feet to be clearly seen, and winds his way out between the chairs towards the aisle with the phone at his ear, talking into it as if he was alone in the world.
SHERLOCK (into the phone): Yes? Oh, yes. Well done. Great. Thank you.
Sherlock continues to walk towards the stage, seemingly oblivious to the scandalised looks that accompany him. At the front of the room, Sigrist has risen from his chair, too, his watery-blue eyes fixed on Sherlock as if on a ghost, his former perfect self-control suddenly shaken.
SHERLOCK (into the phone, conversationally): Yeah, we're onto it. Be done in a minute or so. (He ends the call, and halts three steps away from Sigrist and the now highly confused ambassador.) I can read you that particular riddle, gentlemen. (With a brief, crooked grin in Sigrist's direction) It's what I do for a living, after all. The missing young cellist kindly agreed to get caught up in one of those annoying hold-ups on the Central Line for a while, but he’ll be here shortly. No more need to keep you all from enjoying your Mozart any longer. (He gestures grandly at the empty seats on the stage, as if to invite the other performers to take their places. Then he turns to address Sigrist again.) You'll be relieved to hear that this one at least is safe and sound, I hope. As you know, this part of London can be dangerous territory for music students.
The ambassador opens and then closes his mouth again several times in indignation before he finds his voice.
AMBASSADOR (to Sherlock): Excuse me, what are you -
SHERLOCK (ignoring the ambassador, to Sigrist): There are some gentlemen in uniform downstairs who’d like to have a word with you about the one from last night. The one who didn’t make it to his destination.
Sigrist flushes an unhealthy red, right to the roots of his fair hair. He draws himself up to his full imposing height.
SIGRIST (to Sherlock, aggressively): And what business of yours is that?
SHERLOCK: Oh, I'm just a humble paid helper. Like the ones who turned up at your son's home not ten minutes ago, and made themselves impossible by trying to put Frank's supposed flatmate out of action when he refused to let them in. Once they saw the game was up, they couldn't tell the police quickly enough who had sent them, and why.
Sigrist starts chewing the insides of his cheeks furiously.
SHERLOCK (coldly): Golden rule for hiring assassins, you know – if you want loyalty, you pay for it. On time and in full. Can't expect them to stick their necks out for you if you don't.
Sigrist makes an angry noise between a snort and a growl. His wife looks up at him with wide eyes, utterly at a loss.
MRS SIGRIST (confused): Urban, was ist - ?
But Sigrist pays her no heed. He turns towards the ambassador, as if to enlist his support in a show of offended innocence.
SIGRIST: Your Excellency, this is some ridiculous -
AMBASSADOR (putting a calming hand on Sigrist's arm): Yes, yes, I'm sure it's all a misunderstanding. (He turns towards Sherlock, ready to reassert his authority as host and highest-ranking official present.) I can't allow you to hurl accusations like this at any of my guests, sir. I must ask you to leave and -
MYCROFT (speaking up from behind the ambassador's back): No, you must not.
Unnoticed by the others, Mycroft has walked up to the front of the room now, too, followed by John and Plummer. The ambassador turns to look who spoke, and baulks, clearly knowing Mycroft for himself.
AMBASSADOR: Oh. Oh.
MYCROFT (to Sigrist, with a very false smile): I must ask your pardon. I never properly acknowledged your message. Let me amend that now. And let me answer it in the words of Mozart’s Requiem that you know so well: Lacrimosa dies illa qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus.“Tearful will be that day, on which from the ash arises the guilty man who is to be judged.” Whom does that verse refer to, do you think?
Sherlock gives John a comically resigned look that says “what did I tell you?” - and thus very nearly misses the crucial moment in which Sigrist makes his decision. The bank director glances around, assessing his situation, and then with a sudden surge of energy lunges forward, directly towards Mycroft. His hand goes into the pocket of his jacket, and comes out again holding a small red and silver object, a flash of light glancing off a metal surface for a moment.
Sherlock bellows a belated warning and dives after him, trying to catch him by the back of his jacket. But too late. Sigrist has already reached Mycroft, who, shorttaken by the sudden attack, doesn't move out of the way quickly enough. Sigrist grabs Mycroft in a stranglehold and spins him around, holding him like a human shield in front of his own body, and presses the blade of a Swiss Army knife to his throat. A collective scream of fear and alarm rises from the audience. Everyone jumps to their feet, shrinking back from the commotion, and a sudden babble of excited voices fills the room.
Sigrist moves a few paces back towards the staircase, dragging Mycroft with him, to put himself at a distance to the others. John has his hand in his pocket now, too, but seems undecided how to intervene without harming Mycroft. Plummer looks rather helplessly back and forth between Mycroft and Sherlock, as if for instructions. The scene freezes in deadlock, with hundreds of eyes looking on in horror. For a moment, there's nothing to be heard but the laboured breathing of both Mycroft and Sigrist.
SIGRIST (to the ambassador, quickly): A million Swiss francs in cash, and a charter jet to a destination of my choice.
AMBASSADOR (appalled): Urban, be reasonable...
Sigrist tightens his hold on Mycroft. The small but sharp blade nicks the skin of his throat. In spite of his best efforts not to, Mycroft grimaces. A sheen of sweat has broken out on his brow. Sherlock takes a single step forward.
SHERLOCK (to Sigrist, calmly): Wherever you’re going, you’re going alone. (With his eyes still on Sigrist) John.
He holds out his hand towards his friend, palm up in request, and only a second later, John's gun lands in it. There is another shriek from the audience as Sherlock clicks off the safety catch and raises the weapon to point it – not at Sigrist, but at his own brother. Mycroft's eyes widen in alarm, and he twists sideways in Sigrist’s hold as if to get away from this new and worse threat.
JOHN (aghast): Sherlock, don’t -
Sherlock lowers his arm - but then he pulls the trigger anyway. A single shot rings out, echoing overloud in the hall. Mycroft’s knees buckle, and he crumples to the ground, his face contorted in agony. Sigrist, who has immediately let go of his – now useless - hostage to avoid being dragged down with him, also drops the Swiss Army knife with a curse, turns and takes to his heels. John and Plummer, who were closest to Sigrist, both stand rigid with shock at what Sherlock has just done, and make no attempt to stop him. Sherlock himself, however, is already rushing towards his fallen brother. But instead of coming to his aid, he merely leaps over Mycroft’s prone body, pocketing John’s gun as he runs on in pursuit of the fleeing Sigrist.
SHERLOCK: Come on, John! Straight through the calf, he’ll live!
A moment later, he’s already disappeared down the stairs. John, terribly torn between looking after the injured Mycroft and joining the chase, hesitates for a moment, but then runs after his friend. Behind him, as if jolted back into action by their departure, people are coming back to life, and many helpful hands at once move towards Mycroft to offer their assistance.
INT. – Embassy of Switzerland – Entrance Hall – NIGHT
Sigrist, taking three steps at a time, comes hurtling down the stairs into the entrance hall of the embassy building. The door that leads out onto the street stands open, but through it the outline of a parked police car can be seen. At the last moment, Sigrist sees it and changes direction, glancing over his shoulder at his pursuers. Sherlock is already halfway down the stairs, and John has just appeared at their top.
Sigrist veers away to the left and enters a dimly lit corridor leading deeper into the building. Sherlock and John follow, three black shadows in frantic movement, their fine shoes slapping against the floor tiles like a drumroll. With Sigrist still ahead by five or six yards, they come out into a smaller vestibule. To the left and right of the mouth of their corridor, large ornamental vases have been placed on pedestals.
Turning the corner, Sigrist kicks against the pedestal to his right, knocking it over. It falls across the passage, blocking the way, and the vase goes flying, bursting apart on the floor and sending up a shower of sharp splinters. Sherlock and John throw up their arms to protect their faces. When the dust has settled, they both clear the obstacle at a running jump, but Sigrist has regained his lead.
A pair of glass doors at the other end of the vestibule that are still swinging on their hinges show them the route he has taken. They burst through, and find themselves in a part of the embassy building that sports none of the ostentatious plush luxury that marked all the rooms they came through before. Instead, they’re in a corridor with a worn-down lino floor and an long row of identical plain doors on either side, all marked with numbers and signs saying “Export Licences” and “Chamber of Commerce Liason” and the like. They have clearly entered the modern office block adjoining the original embassy building that houses the day-to-day business of the place. At the end of the corridor, a staircase of cast stone, also much more utilitarian than the one leading up to the concert hall, leads up to the next floor. At the turn of the landing, the tails of Sigrist’s jacket are just whipping out of sight. The two friends sprint after him.
Upstairs, a corridor much like the one they’ve just passed through awaits them, apparently deserted. They separate and, one along each wall, they move quickly from one closed door to the next. This seems to be the visa and immigration department, going by the inscriptions on the doors, and by a row of orange plastic seats installed along the left hand wall as a waiting area for visitors.
Only one door at the far end, opposite a photocopier, stands open. John, in the lead, sidles up to it on tiptoe. Just as he peeks inside what seems to be a tiny windowless kitchenette for the embassy employees’ use, a heavy weight lands on his back, knocking him to the ground.
Sigrist, who must have been lurking behind the photocopier, is looming above John, grappling for his throat. John, gasping for breath, claws wildly at the hands cutting off his oxygen supply. Sigrist, grimacing savagely, a vein pulsing heavily in his temple, is just about to knock John’s head viciously against the ground when Sherlock grabs him from behind to drag him off his friend. Sigrist lets go of John and stumbles backwards, but then manages to ram his elbow into Sherlock’s already sore ribs, sending him reeling against the opposite wall, gasping and clutching his side. Clearly unwilling to take on two opponents at once, Sigrist takes to his heels again. John, back on his feet, his face flushed dark red with both anger and exertion, dives after him to stop him, but Sherlock pushes himself forward right into his path, bodily blocking the way. The two friends collide, and Sigrist, running back down the corridor the way they came, disappears from sight for the second time.
JOHN (rubbing his head, exasperated): Friggin’ hell! Are you mad? He’s getting away!
He coughs, and draws in a few large, laborious gulps of breath.
SHERLOCK (in a breathless whisper): That’s the point! (John stares at him in utter bewilderment. Impatiently) We’re technically in Switzerland, John, no point in arresting him in here! With his connections, they’ll never extradite him! We’ve got to flush him out!
JOHN (peevishly): Ah, thank you. (He coughs again.) Couldn’t you have -
But Sherlock has already started after Sigrist again.
SHERLOCK (over his shoulder, already halfway back down the corridor): Keep up, for God’s sake!
This turns out to be easier said than done for John, who still has trouble getting enough air into his lungs. Soon, he’s several lengths behind Sherlock again, and has barely started ascending the staircase to the second floor when Sherlock is already at its top. John still hears his footsteps for a moment, but then a door falls shut somewhere above his head, and there is an ominous silence. John grabs the bannister, pulling himself up the stairs as fast as he can.
The staircase leads up to a glass door opening onto what looks like a roof-top terrace. John peers out through the door into the darkness. It’s a fairly large space, closed in by the much higher walls of the adjoining buildings on three sides, but looking out over the quiet back street behind the embassy - Bryanston Mews East - on the fourth side. It’s furnished with tables and chairs and even a barbecue grill, but at this time of the year all the furniture is covered in sheets of plastic, making the place look like a big outdoor lumber room.
And right at the end of the terrace, close to the broad low balustrade separating it from the street below, the two figures of Sherlock and Sigrist can be seen locked in a fierce and – from John’s vantage point - eerily silent hand-to-hand struggle. The two men are rolling on the ground, grappling with each other. Sigrist momentarily comes out on top, and for a moment, John can see the man's face clearly, a grimace of hatred, ready to kill.
With a noise of dismay, John throws the door open and runs out, just as Sigrist lifts Sherlock bodily up by the lapels of his jacket, and with brute force topples him backwards over a covered deck chair. Sherlock goes down again with a thud, a rustle of plastic, and a grunt of pain as his ribcage collides with the hard edge of the deck chair - and with a clatter, John’s gun falls out of the pocket of his jacket onto the wooden boards of the terrace.
Hearing the treacherous sound, both Sherlock and Sigrist turn to make a dive for the weapon, but Sigrist is quicker. He grasps it with a triumphant growl and immediately draws back a few paces, more to secure a good aim now than to get away, while Sherlock scrambles heavily back to his feet. Feeling the balustrade that marks the end of the terrace behind him, Sigrist steps backwards onto it and raises the gun with both hands to point it directly at Sherlock’s head. John, too far away to intervene, has halted abruptly, frozen with horror. Sigrist, with his deranged suit and dishevelled hair, is looking absolutely mad now, as he throws his head back and laughs aloud in triumph.
SIGRIST: What do you say now, Mr Holmes?
Sherlock makes a move as if to raise his hands in surrender - but then, to both Sigrist’s and John’s surprise, he surges forward and in a single quick movement jumps straight onto the balustrade, too. Sigrist swings around to keep him covered, and the two men, one armed and one not, stand facing each other for a moment, balanced precariously above the quiet street below. Then Sherlock smiles.
SHERLOCK: I say never pick a fight with a Swiss Guard.
Without the slightest hesitation, Sigrist pulls the trigger - but there is only an ineffectual click, nothing more. And before he realises what’s happening, Sherlock pivots on the spot. His leg comes up, and in a rather inelegant but effective version of what is known in martial arts as a reverse hook kick, his foot hits Sigrist squarely in the chest. The man staggers, and the gun goes flying and lands in some dark corner of the terrace. Sherlock, unable to control his own momentum, stumbles back down onto the terrace, clutching the edge of a nearby table to stop himself from falling. He turns around just in time to see Sigrist teetering on the brink of the balustrade for a moment, arms flailing wildly to keep his balance - but then, with a strangled cry, he goes over the edge.
John, who has started running towards them the moment he saw Sigrist’s finger tighten around the trigger, is by Sherlock’s side in time for them both to see Sigrist land - not on the pavement below, but right on top of a sleek, black Porsche convertible that was parked down there in the street, presumably by one of the more affluent concert goers. There is a sickening crunch of splintering plastic and fibre-glass as the roof of the car collapses under Sigrist’s weight and the force of the impact. But it effectively cushions his fall, as is evident from Sigrist’s loud curses as he struggles to disentangle himself from it.
A dozen dark figures emerge from the nearby house entrances and from behind other parked cars and surround the car. While the muzzles of an Armed Response Team are being pointed at its ruin, a plain clothes officer walks up to it. When he enters the range of the nearby street light, it picks out his distinctive silvery hair.
LESTRADE (in a jovial tone): Welcome to Britain, Mr Sigrist. You have the right to be silent, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be given in evidence…
Twelve feet above him on the rooftop terrace, Sherlock and John exchange a look, too exhausted for the moment to truly relish their victory. Then John is the first to push himself back off the balustrade.
JOHN (wearily): And now excuse me, I believe I have a patient to attend to.
He turns to scan the floor of the terrace with his eyes for his lost gun, but Sherlock is quicker. He ducks under the nearest table, and comes up again holding the gun in one hand and his ribs with the other, breathing hard. John, seeing it, grimaces. Sherlock wordlessly offers the gun to John. John takes it, and the moment he’s holding it in his hand, he immediately realises what was wrong with it. The beginnings of a grin spread across his face. Sherlock digs into his trouser pocket and brings out a handful of shiny bullets.
SHERLOCK (still a little breathlessly): Some chances I take, but there are limits.
JOHN (with a wry smile): I’m happy to hear it.
He receives the ammunition back and reinserts it carefully into the empty clip while they walk back towards the building, with Sherlock setting an unusually staid pace.
JOHN (with a sidelong glance at his friend): Are you alright?
SHERLOCK (airily): Oh, I’m fine. A little rusty, maybe. I used to be able to hit the head.
JOHN (pocketing his gun): You're walking a bit funny. I’d definitely have torn a muscle or three in my leg, with a kick like that. You sure you haven’t?
SHERLOCK (looking straight ahead, a little sheepishly): No. Just my trouser leg.
This time, John smiles for real.
INT. – Embassy of Switzerland – Concert Hall – NIGHT
When Sherlock and John return to the main building of the embassy – barely ten minutes after they left it to chase after Sigrist - both the downstairs foyer and the concert hall upstairs are already teeming with uniformed police officers. They have started evacuating the place in an orderly, professional fashion, and Sherlock and John have to make their way against the tide of the departing audience, robbed of the pleasure of a Mozart concert but furnished with a story to tell their grandchildren, all of them far too keyed-up and excited to even notice that two of the protagonists of the drama are passing right through thei r midst.
The front part of the concert hall has been transformed into a temporary field hospital. A number of people – by their particularly formal dress probably members of the Swiss legation and their guests of honour – are grouped around Mycroft, all of them looking anxious and eager to help. The Swiss Ambassador is among them, wringing his hands and being generally rather useless. In the background, his wife, apparently much better equipped to deal with a crisis, is sitting with her arm around a hysterically sobbing Mrs Sigrist, murmuring words of comfort into her ear. But in the eye of the storm, everything seems calm and relatively under control.
Mycroft is still lying on the floor, but on his back now, as comfortably as the circumstances allow, with his head cushioned on a folded jacket generously donated to the cause by one of the onlookers. His injured leg has been raised to rest on the music stool that has been fetched from the stage. The contents of three or even four small standard first aid kits, open on the floor around him, have been combined into a makeshift pressure bandage on the wound in his calf. A grey-haired and moustached gentleman, on his knees on the floor, is in the process of adding yet another layer to it, now resorting to bathroom towels that someone has run to fetch for him.
Sherlock and John reach them, John purposefully in the lead and Sherlock hanging back in rather uncharacteristic reticence. John immediately drops down by Mycroft’s side, glancing critically at the first aid that has been provided in his absence. But he immediately recognises the work of a skilled hand.
MOUSTACHED MAN (to John, in a strong German accent): It’s a clean through-and-through shot, straight through the soleus. Moderate bleeding, not arterial.
John gives the man a nod of approval and thanks, then turns to check on Mycroft. Mycroft is still sweating profusely, but holding up very bravely otherwise, in spite of the fright he had and the pain he must be feeling now. Maybe he is, in his own way, atoning for all the pain and grief that his own rather inglorious part in the Dies Irae case has caused. He smiles up at John through gritted teeth.
MYCROFT: If you'll permit me to say so, Doctor Watson – you make a lousy bodyguard.
John spreads his hands apologetically.
SHERLOCK: He’s a great emergency surgeon though.
MYCROFT (twisting his head to look up at his brother, reproachfully): Once he can be spared, yes, I’m sure. (Nodding towards the moustached man who has been attending to him) But luckily, this gentleman here happens to be a surgeon, too.
Sherlock takes in the grey-haired Swiss doctor's very soigné appearance with a single glance, and with a curl of his lip.
SHERLOCK: Yes, a cosmetic surgeon. (To Mycroft) Well, good for you, you won't have a scar then.
MYCROFT (peevishly): I'll know who to blame if I do.
He shifts for a more comfortable position, and groans.
SHERLOCK (innocently): You know, the ricochet off a marble floor tile is different from the one off the more common polished granite, due to the relative density of the material, so the calculation was a bit -
MYCROFT (drily): Don't try.
SHERLOCK (miffed): - and it's actually quite pointless to complain about a little hole in one's leg when one is so very averse to any kind of legwork anyway. Be glad I've given you a cast-iron excuse from that for the next week or so. Or are you trying to tell me you could have faked that collapse believably without a little genuine incentive?
A scandalised silence follows his words. The only person present who doesn't seem shocked or even surprised at the implications is Mycroft himself. But just then, Sherlock is saved by the bell. A team of paramedics arrives, carrying a stretcher and followed by Greg Lestrade, come to report on the success of their mission.
While the paramedics relieve John and the Swiss doctor of the care for their patient and start replacing the improvised bandage with a more permanent one from their own well-stocked kits, Lestrade – himself still adorned with the stabilising tape across his nose - shakes his head at Sherlock.
LESTRADE: Is this a curse, or something? How come John here's the only one who gets to come out of this whole Mozart disaster unscathed?
SHERLOCK (straight-faced): John's getting married. Can't ruin the photos.
John pulls a face, but refrains from comment.
LESTRADE (nodding towards Mycroft, who is now being transferred onto the stretcher the paramedics brought with them): So how did that happen?
The silence that meets his words, both on Sherlock's and on John's part, is so eloquent that Lestrade immediately acknowledges the pointlessness of pressing the question.
LESTRADE (with a sigh): Well, alright. So. Sigrist's safely in custody – we'll have him checked, but it looks like no more than bumps and bruises. And his two accomplices, too – nasty customers, those two. Dimmock narrowly escaped getting a bullet in his head when he pretended to be too grieved to let them put together Frank’s things. If it hadn't been for our Armed Response fellows in the kitchen... But anyway, when Sigrist’s henchmen realised they were done for, they sang pretty low all of a sudden.
JOHN (concerned): Is Dimmock alright?
SHERLOCK (simultaneously): Did you find my coat?
LESTRADE (to John, raising his eyebrows): Good to know some things will never change, isn’t it? (In a reassuring tone) Dimmock’s fine. Not a hair out of place. (John grins at Lestrade’s choice of words. To Sherlock) And your coat was still in their van. Good as new.
John and Sherlock both nod, looking very content. Then they all move aside to make a lane for the paramedics, who are now starting to wheel the stretcher with Mycroft on it towards the stairs, and the ambulance waiting outside. The three friends fall into step behind it. John takes out his phone and begins to type on it as he walks.
SHERLOCK: What are you doing?
JOHN: Being a gentleman. There are three ladies of our acquaintance having tea together in the kitchen of Number 221A Baker Street right now, and they’re all dying to know how we’ve fared.
LESTRADE (to Sherlock, conversationally): Oh, and, by the way – I’m to tell you that you're welcome to come and pick up the hat at the Yard. After the trial, of course.
Sherlock deliberates his answer carefully for a moment, but then it comes out surprisingly suave, almost entirely without venom.
SHERLOCK: Oh, no, I really couldn't. It looks so much better on her than on me.
John and Lestrade exchange a surprised look. Sherlock merely shrugs. They begin descending the stairs, and disappear from sight.
Concert poster by RubraSaetaFictor
Pie Jesu Domine,
Dona eis requiem.
Merciful Lord Jesus,
Grant them rest.
(Dies Irae, Final Verse)
EXT. - Baker Street – Outside 221B – DAY
Saturday, 22 March 2014
John Watson, with his hands in his pockets, is standing at the kerb just outside 221B Baker Street, facing the roadway, as if waiting for someone. After a moment, a cab drives up and stops next to him. Out of it gets Sherlock, carrying his violin case in his hand. When he spots his friend, he smiles a little absently. His mind seems to be elsewhere.
JOHN (returning the smile): Ah, there you are. Did it go alright?
SHERLOCK: What did?
JOHN: The funeral.
Sherlock opens his mouth to deny everything. He even makes a move as if to hide the violin case behind his back.
JOHN: Oh, come on. You disappear for a day, and your violin with you. Not a difficult deduction, that one.
The cab drives off.
SHERLOCK: Mycroft told you.
JOHN: No, the clock told me. Twice. (Sherlock frowns.) There's a BA flight from Heathrow to Zurich at 7:55 a.m. on Saturdays, which explains why I couldn't reach you when I tried to call you shortly after eight this morning. And there’s a return one from Zurich at 2:45 p.m., which explains why you're getting out of a cab from the direction of Paddington station at exactly this moment.
Sherlock doesn't reply. John allows himself a short moment of basking in the glory of a brilliant deduction, then sobers up again.
JOHN: But speaking of Mycroft, he says to say hello. He’s healing well, back at his desk already. I said it was a bit early, in my medical opinion, but he said his presence was required.
SHERLOCK: I know. HM Revenue and Customs are making him put in some extra shifts on their behalf again, now that Sigrist’s lawyers have handed over the list of the Bankhaus König’s British customers in hopes for a lenient sentence.
JOHN: Ah. So I suppose something good came of this after all.
SHERLOCK (bitterly): Oh yes, five people are dead, but the Crown will finally have the funds to fix the potholes on the M25. A real win.
JOHN (conversationally): By the way, I looked up Joshua Allen at St. Mary’s this morning, too.
JOHN: Joshua Allen. The boy from the museum.
SHERLOCK: Ah. And?
JOHN: He wasn’t there anymore. They told me he’s been transferred to some high-end private neurological rehab centre near Manchester.
SHERLOCK (with a snort): Least he could do. (Deliberately changing the subject) I notice you neglected to mention Mycroft’s injury in the “Adventure of the Grey Messenger” on your blog.
JOHN (with a grin): Yes, well, it didn't seem like a good idea to spread the news that the British Government is laid up because it got shot in the leg by its own little brother. Just imagine how Urban and Beat from the Swiss Guards would feel reading that. They’d probably feel guilty that they didn’t teach you some basic gun safety, too.
SHERLOCK: You don't seriously think that Urban and Beat read your blog?
JOHN (innocently): Why not?
SHERLOCK (dismissively): I'm not even sure they can read.
JOHN (with a little smile): Oh, I get the funniest surprises sometimes when I look at my "visitor by country" stats.
They turn towards the front door of 221B, and let themselves in.
INT. - 221B Baker Street – The Hall - DAY
In the hall, Mrs Hudson comes hurrying towards them, giddy with excite-ment.
MRS HUDSON: Oh, Sherlock! There you are. You've got a new client! He's waiting upstairs. I tried to offer him tea, but he wouldn't hear of it. (She lowers her voice discreetly.) Elderly gentleman, a foreigner, Spanish accent, I think. He must have heard about the Swiss Bank case. He says he's got a whole bank of his own that's completely out of control, and would really value your advice.
Sherlock and John exchange a puzzled look.
MRS HUDSON: He says two of his staff recommended you.
On John’s face, an expression of incredulous surprise is dawning. Sherlock seems oblivious to it.
SHERLOCK: Alright. (He starts taking off his coat.) But this one isn't in a fancy costume, is he?
MRS HUDSON (with barely suppressed delight): I wouldn't say fancy, no. Just plain white robes.
Sherlock stares at her, half in and half out of his coat, thunderstruck. John makes a strangled little noise that could equally be terror and pride. It probably is both. Mrs Hudson smiles conspiratorially.
MRS HUDSON: I really think I should make him some tea.
SHERLOCK (shedding his coat completely, with decision): No.
Mrs Hudson and John exchange an alarmed look.
JOHN: But Sherlock, it’s -
SHERLOCK (to Mrs Hudson, with a sudden, very sweet smile): I'll make it.
Who’s the new mysterious visitor?